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Ms Rita O'Hare

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans she has to pursue extradition proceedings against Ms Rita O'Hare. [46283]

Mr. Ingram: The High Court in the Republic of Ireland ruled in 1978 that Rita O'Hare should not be extradited to Northern Ireland, on the ground that the offences that she was alleged to have committed fell within political offence exemption. That does not preclude the possibility of the Government seeking Ms O'Hare's extradition if she were to travel to another jurisdiction with which extradition arrangements exist. However, as to the future, it is not the Government's practice to disclose whether or not extradition proceedings are planned.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

National Minimum Wage

Mr. Baldry: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to her oral statement of 18 June 1998, Official Report, columns 507-19, if she will list the range of estimates her Department has produced relating to the impact of a minimum wage on employment levels. [47141]

Mr. Ian McCartney: The Government share the Low Pay Commission's view that the national minimum wage set at the level proposed should have no significant impact on employment.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will estimate the net cost or benefit to (a) Government, (b) employers and (c) employees of the minimum wage proposals in the first 12 months of its operation. [47235]

Mr. Ian McCartney: The national minimum wage will bring benefits to all. It will encourage people to move from dependence on state benefits into work; employers' productivity will improve as the morale of their workforces rises and staff turnover falls. The minimum wage set at the level proposed will help some 2 million low paid workers escape from poverty pay.

Patent Office

Dr. Cable: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many complaints her Department has received about the cost of lodging an objection with the Patent Office in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [47046]

Mr. Ian McCartney: There are two routes available under the Trade Marks Act 1994 to anyone who wishes to object to an application to register a trade mark. Section 38(2) provides for any person to lodge opposition. The present fee for this is £200, and the opponent then becomes a party to proceedings before the Registrar. However, under section 38(3), a person may make written observations without payment of any fee, and without becoming a party to proceedings.

23 Jun 1998 : Column: 474

In the 12 month period to the end of May 1998, over 1,600 oppositions and more than 130 observations were filed. The Registrar is aware of only one formal complaint in that period about the cost of filing opposition.

Seafarers

Helen Jackson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if United Kingdom seafarers are covered by the proposed fairness at work legislation. [47132]

Mr. Ian McCartney: The proposals in the White Paper will apply to seamen to the same extent as they are covered by existing legislation in the areas dealt with by the White Paper.

EU Structural Funds

Mr. Keetch: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will make a statement on the use of EU structural funds for the recreational uses of inland waterways as part of rural employment policy. [46957]

Mrs. Roche [holding answer 22 June 1998]: The uses to which the Structural Funds can be put are determined by programme documents agreed between the Government and the Commission. They concentrate on activities which will increase employability and competitiveness in the regions concerned.

In rural areas eligible under the Funds these programme documents will include tourism as one of their priorities. Projects which increase tourism potential, including those for recreational uses of inland waterways, will be eligible. In all cases, projects will be selected on the basis of criteria which will seek to maximise value for money.

Maternity Leave

Mr. Rooney: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what estimate he has made of how many women will benefit from the proposed extension of maternity leave from 14 weeks to 18 weeks. [46991]

Mr. Ian McCartney [holding answer 22 June 1998]: The extension of statutory maternity leave from 14 weeks to 18 weeks will improve the statutory right to leave for the 2.3 million women employees with less than one year's service who could choose to exercise it in the event that they become pregnant.

Mr. Rooney: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what estimate he has made of how many women will benefit from the proposed reduction from two years to one year in the qualifying period for extended maternity leave. [46996]

Mr. Ian McCartney [holding answer 22 June 1998]: The reduction in the qualifying period for extended maternity absence will extend this statutory right to a further 1.4 million women employees who could choose to exercise it in the event that they become pregnant. This is one of a package of family friendly policies which will also benefit families, including children, and the labour market.

23 Jun 1998 : Column: 475

Export Credit Loans

Mr. Cousins: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will list the dates on which export credit loans to Governments and Government agencies have been rescheduled since 1990, indicating in each case for what values and with which countries. [46487]

Mrs. Roche: The Government do not provide export credit loans direct to other governments. Official export credits are those guaranteed or insured by the Export Credits Guarantee Department. ECGD has negotiated over 100 debt rescheduling agreements with 45 countries since January 1990. It should be noted that many debts originated in the seventies and eighties and have been rescheduled several times. Consequently details of debt rescheduled for the first time under each agreement are not readily available. To aggregate the debt under all agreements with each debtor country would result in a high degree multiple counting. The figure shown in the third column of the table is the approximate amount of debt treated under the latest signed agreements only.

Bilateral debt agreements negotiated since 1 January 1990

CountryDate(s) of agreement(s)Debt treated under latest agreement (approximately) £ million
Algeria7 December 199481
18 December 1996
Argentina17 March 199239
8 February 1993
Benin16 November 19934
28 April 1997
Bolivia19 March 199130
8 September 1992
11 September 1995
25 June 1996
Brazil14 January 1993631
Bulgaria14 October 19922
25 March 1993
Burkina Faso13 January 19922
24 July 1997
Cameroon29 November 199022
3 November 1993
12 September 1995
9 December 1996
(9)--
Republic of Congo10 December 199454
26 May 1995
18 February 1997
Costa Rica7 June 19900.7
12 November 1991
18 November 1993
Cote d'Ivoire18 October 199013
30 July 1992
1 February 1995
(9)--
Croatia4 April 199688
Ecuador30 May 199016
30 July 1992
13 January 1995
Egypt21 April 1992450
Ethiopia12 August 19936
8 October 1997
Gabon12 March 199136
9 August 1995
9 September 1996
Guinea Republic27 February 19912
3 November 1993
12 February 1996
9 July 1997
Guyana15 May 1991125
12 February 1994
12 May 1997
Jamaica28 May 19912
13 March 1992
3 December 1993
Jordan29 August 199159
5 January 1993
29 June 1995
Kenya15 July 199458
Macedonia5 September 19964
Madagascar25 October 199021
4 April 1991
21 October 1997
Mali14 February 199019
9 November 1990
14 February 1997
Mauritania13 July 19911
19 October 1993
18 February 1996
Mexico22 March 1991148
Morocco28 March 199130
7 September 1992
Mozambique20 April 199024
29 March 1991
15 December 1993
11 March 1997
Nicaragua22 February 19932
Niger6 April 19903
16 December 1991
20 June 1995
12 October 1997
Nigeria10 June 1991542
Peru17 September 1992122
30 December 1993
4 November 1996
Philippines15 March 199015
13 November 1991
Poland4 October 19911,576
30 December 1991
Russia5 June 199280
25 May 1994
28 February 1995
26 February 1996
(9)--
Senegal26 October 19900.5
9 April 1992
26 December 1994
13 January 1995
Sierra Leone6 March 19910.4
1 November 1993
15 December 1994
15 July 1996
Tanzania26 June 199076
4 March 1991
24 August 1992
1 July 1997
Togo3 April 19908
9 August 1991
12 December 1994
25 October 1995
Trinidad and Tobago9 October 19905
Uganda24 June 199317
28 February 1996
(9)--
Vietnam1 December 199421
Yemen26 August 19979
Zaire (DRCongo)23 July 199035
Zambia20 May 199147
5 June 1997

(9) In neg. 1998


23 Jun 1998 : Column: 477

Mr. Cousins: To ask the President of the Board of Trade which countries have asked for the cancellation or rescheduling of export credit loans since 1 May 1997 which have not yet been agreed. [46488]

Mrs. Roche: None. Jordan, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Nicaragua, Uganda and Senegal have approached the Paris Club for debt reduction and/or rescheduling since 1 May 1997. Agreement has been reached in all cases. No other debtor countries have formally sought rescheduling through the Paris Club during this period.


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