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Employment Rights Act

Mr. Wills: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the (a) total and (b) average amount of ex gratia payments her Department made in (i) 1996 and (ii) 1997 under the Employment Rights Act 1996. [47072]

Mr. Ian McCartney: In the period between 22 August 1996, when the Employments Rights Act 1996 became effective, and the end of the 1996/97 financial year (a) the total paid under ex gratia arrangements in relation

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to claims under the Employments Rights Act 1996 was £13,160; (b) the average in that period was £1,880 per case (£1,196 per single payment).

In the 1997/98 financial year (a) the total paid under ex gratia arrangements in relation to claims under the Employments Rights Act 1996 was £24,666; (b) the average in that period was £2,242 per case (£1,542 per single payment).

Mr. Wills: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what was the largest single ex gratia payment her Department made in (a) 1996 and (b) 1997 under the Employment Rights Act 1996. [47073]

Mr. Ian McCartney: The largest single ex gratia payment made in relation to claims under the Employment Rights Act 1996 in (a) 1996 was £3,210, and in (b) 1997 was £6,777.

Manufacturing Exports

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans she has to assist manufacturers to increase the volume of British goods exported to foreign countries. [46600]

Mrs. Roche [holding answer 23 June 1998]: The full range of Overseas Trade Services is available to help UK companies sell goods and services overseas.

Following the Export Forum's report last November, these are being improved and extended. A National Exporters Database will be introduced on 1 July and a new Export Sales Leads Service on 1 September. A new simpler system of Support for Exhibitions and Seminars abroad will apply to events opening after 1 April 1999.

New programmes of activity in some of the target markets identified by the Export Forum have already been announced, including the Export Explorer for Western Europe. New programmes in the remaining target markets will be launched throughout the year.

Manufacturing Investment

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans she has to promote private investment in British manufacturing industry. [46599]

Mr. Battle [holding answer 23 June 1998]: The Government are striving to promote high levels of investment in British industry, including manufacturing, through achieving economic stability, and creating a tax system that rewards enterprise. The Chancellor also recently announced three new venture capital funds totalling £240 million to support small and medium businesses, and this Department is working in partnership with business to raise the competitiveness of our firms, including looking at what else can be done to promote investment.

Dounreay

Mr. Flynn: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what consultations she held with (a) environment pressure groups, (b) local authority interest groups, (c) academic experts and (d) the Socialist Environment and Resources Association prior to her decision on the phased closure of Dounreay. [45774]

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Mr. Battle [holding answer 17 June 1998]: My Department regularly receives and welcomes views from interested groups and individuals on a range of issues. In addition, I recently addressed the Socialist Environment and Resources Association. Nothing is more important than safety in all operations on nuclear licensed sites. Within this overriding requirement, the particular decision to accept no new commercial reprocessing at Dounreay was taken on economic grounds after considering the recommendation from the UKAEA.

Pharmaceutical Industry

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment she has made of the impact of the Irish Development Agency on the number of pharmaceutical companies leaving the United Kingdom to locate in the Republic of Ireland. [47817]

Mr. Ian McCartney: The factors which cause a company to leave a particular market are often complex and go beyond simply the efforts or effect of an investment body in another market.

I am unaware of any significant number of pharmaceutical companies leaving the UK to locate in the Republic of Ireland, although there have been instances of companies locating new investment projects or switching certain production there. This is a matter for their commercial judgment. However, the UK remains at the forefront of the pharmaceutical industry having the world's fifth largest industry by sales. But we are not complacent: both my Department and the Department of Health are working with the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry to ensure that we retain our prominent position.

Biotechnology

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assistance her Department has given to the expansion of biotech companies in the last year. [47816]

Mr. Battle: My Department is committed to getting the climate right for the development of the UK's biotechnology sector. We support technology transfer through, for example, LINK, EUREKA, and SMART, and specific Biotechnology Challenges, to encourage the start-up and growth of new companies.

This assistance is complemented by support for the sector by other Government Departments and by the Research Councils.

Car Prices

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will list the latest figures for average retail prices for new cars sold in the (a) UK and (b) other European Union countries. [47411]

Mr. Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 25 June 1998]: The European Commission produces a six-monthly report on car prices across the European Union, comparing the prices in each Member State of the best-selling models. I have placed a copy of the latest report in the Library of the House. The Commission's figures can also be found on the Internet at http://europa.eu.int/en/comm/dg04/aid/en/car.htm.

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Lord Archer

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many copies were made of the DTI inspectors' report into the conduct of Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare in respect of share dealing; and if she will list the holders and locations of these copies. [47603]

Mr. Nigel Griffiths: The inspectors appointed to investigate dealings in the shares of Anglia Television Group Plc delivered 20 copies of the report to the Secretary of State in July 1994. No further copies have been made in the Department. All 20 copies are still held within the Department, other than copies disclosed to the Stock Exchange and the Securities and Futures Authority.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many persons were interviewed by her Department's inspectors in connection with the investigation into the conduct of Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare in respect of share dealing. [47703]

Mr. Nigel Griffiths: The inspectors conducted formal interviews with 22 witnesses in the course of their investigation in 1994 into dealings in the shares of Anglia Television Group Plc. Not all these interviews related to Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will publish the DTI inspectors' report into the conduct of Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare in respect of share dealing. [47602]

Mr. Nigel Griffiths: Reports of insider dealing inspections are not published. There are strict legal restraints on disclosure of information obtained in such inspections.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many hours were spent by her inspectors in the investigation into the conduct of Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare in respect of share dealing. [47867]

Mr. Nigel Griffiths: The information is not held in this form. As mentioned in an earlier answer, two independent inspectors were appointed under S.177 of the Financial Services Act 1986 to investigate dealings in the securities of Anglia Television Group Plc between 10 January and 21 January 1994. Their fees and disbursements amounted to about £215,000 (including VAT).

The investigation dealt with a wider range of matters than Lord Archer's dealing and accordingly the amount related thereto is not separately calculable.

European Working Hours Directive

Mr. Hancock: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment she has made of the impact of the European Working Hours Directive on retirement home managers who are required to be on call for 24 hours per day. [47453]

Mr. Ian McCartney: The consultation document on proposals to implement the EC Working Time Directive, issued in April 1998, contained an appraisal of the costs and benefits of these measures for workers and employers. A copy of this document is available in the Library of the House. No appraisal has been undertaken by my Department of the specific impact on retirement home managers.

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