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Minimum Wage

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment the Government have made of the impact of a minimum wage of £4 an hour on employment in the context of its evidence to the Low Pay Commission. [28128]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 6 February 1998]: We have asked the Independent Low Pay Commission to take into account all economic circumstances, including the likely effect on the level of employment, when formulating its recommendations to Government.

Second-hand Gas Appliances

Mrs. Brinton: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will make it her policy to introduce tighter restrictions on the sale of second-hand gas appliances. [28569]

Mr. Battle: My Department is presently carrying out a detailed analysis following a formal consultation exercise on proposed safety Regulations for second-hand gas appliances. Decision on future policy will be made when the analysis is complete.

In the meantime, the safety of second-hand gas appliances is currently regulated by a combination of Regulations covering specific products, the Gas Cooking Appliances (Safety) Regulations 1989 and the Heating Appliances (Fireguarding)(Safety) Regulations 1991. For other types of gas appliances the General Product Safety Regulations 1994 apply. Taken together, this legislation generally provides that suppliers of second-hand gas appliances must ensure that only safe appliances can be marketed.

9 Feb 1998 : Column: 96

Fair Competition

Dr. Cable: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what guidelines are issued to (a) the Meteorological Office, (b) Companies House and (c) the Ordnance Survey to ensure that they engage in only fair competition with private information providers who are also their customers. [26707]

Mr. Ian McCartney: The Meteorological Office is the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Defence. The Ordnance Survey is the responsibility of the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

Companies House is statutorily obliged to make information on companies, submitted to it under the provisions of the Companies Act, available to all who seek it. It does so through the offer of a range of products and services which are available to all, but which include some of particular benefit to private information providers and some equally appropriate to the needs of individual searchers.

Companies House is guided by its Framework Document, by the annual business plan that is submitted to and approved by Ministers, and by a range of other specific or generic guidelines issued to it as an Executive Agency.

British Inventors

Dr. Cable: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what proposals the Government have for supporting and promoting British inventors. [26708]

Mr. Battle: My Department has awarded the Institute of Patentees and Inventors (IPI) a grant of £30,000 for the period 1996/97-1998/99 to help them to maintain and improve the services which they provide. The Government have also introduced legislation to establish the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA). Funded by an endowment of £200 million from the National Lottery, NESTA will help talented individuals in the fields of science, technology and the arts to achieve their full potential and help to turn inventions or ideas into products or services. The Department's expenditure programmes which support innovation in business are being reviewed as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Departmental Publicity

Mr. Bercow: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what has been the cost of media presentations and press conferences which he has given, other than those held at his Department. [25162]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 23 January 1998]: The cost of media presentations and press conferences which I and my Ministers have given outside my Department have normally been no more than the cost of a backdrop at most a few hundred pounds. The only occasions where the costs have been greater were the launch of the Business Link Enterprise Zone in November (£18k), and the regional events marking our EU Presidency in December (£6k).

Agenda 2000

Miss McIntosh: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what action the Government will take to ensure

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those sectors of the British economy previously benefiting from European Structural Funding will continue to benefit under the new Agenda 2000 proposals, with particular reference to KONVER. [25765]

Mrs. Roche [holding answer 27 January 1998]: The Government welcome the European Commission's continuing support under the proposed new Objective 2 for regions undergoing restructuring. We would like to see a fair balance, ideally determined at the national or regional level, of the available resources between deprived industrial, urban and rural areas. The communication "Agenda 2000", published on 16 July 1997, outlined in general terms the Commission's approach to these regions. However, the details will not be clear until the Commission publishes detailed proposals for Structural Fund reform in March or April. In the negotiations that follow, we will be asking the Commission how the new Objective 2 will be sufficiently flexible in its approach to areas heavily dependent on a single sector, such as defence. The Government are currently undertaking regional consultations with interested parties to hear their views on the implications in the UK of Structural Fund reform.

Counterfeit Goods

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment she has made of the extent of the trade in counterfeit goods in the north west; and if she will make a statement. [23997]

Mr. Nigel Griffiths: My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has not made an assessment of the extent of the trade in counterfeit goods in the north west, but shares my hon. Friend's concern regarding the trade in counterfeit goods.

Trading Standards Officers and the Police are responsible for the enforcement of measures against the counterfeit trade. However, my Department is in regular contact with groups representing the interests of trade mark and copyright owners to ensure that the legal framework is supportive of their efforts.

Some information on the extent of counterfeit trade is available from the annual returns provided by Trading Standards departments.

From the 133 reports Successful prosecutions
received for 1996-97TotalNorth West
Trade Mark Acts 199421741
Copyright, Patents and Designs Acts9117


Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment she has made of the extent of the counterfeit trade in automotive and aerospace spare parts. [23999]

Mr. Nigel Griffiths: My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has not made an assessment of the extent of the trade in counterfeit goods specifically in the North West, but shares my hon. Friend's concern regarding the trade in counterfeit goods.

Trading Standards Officers and the Police are responsible for the enforcement of measure against counterfeit trade contained in the Trade Marks Act 1994

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and the Copyright, Patents and Designs Act 1988. Information from the annual returns provided by trading standards departments for 1996-97 show that there were 217 successful prosecutions under the Trade Marks Act and 91 successful prosecutions under the Copyright, Patents and Designs Acts.

No cases were reported involving automotive or aerospace parts and the Anti-Counterfeiting Group were not able to supply data on this either.

Coal Industry

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what meetings the Minister for Science, Energy and Industry has held with (a) mining managements and (b) mining unions since 1 November. [24403]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 20 January 1998]: My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Science, Energy and Industry has held several meetings with representatives from Mining Unions and Management since 1 November and will continue to do so.

Special Advisers

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the annual cost of the support staff, accommodation, personnel salaries and other overheads of her Department's special advisers. [25816]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 27 January 1998]: I refer the right hon. Member to the replies I gave to the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan), 27 October 1997, Official Report, column 685, and to the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins), Official Report, 12 December 1997, Official Report, column 721, in relation to the salaries of my Special Advisers, and to the answer provided by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) on 30 June 1997, in relation to the cost of support staff.

These are the only cost requested that are readily separable from other Department costs.


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