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Acquired Rights Directive

Mr. Boswell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what research she has conducted on whether former local authority employees transferring employment under the Acquired Rights Directive are likely to receive their full anticipated retirement pension in cases of one or more subsequent transfers of employment. [51248]

Mr. Ian McCartney: None. The coverage of occupational pensions is, however, one of the issues that the Government have under active consideration in the context of their intended revision of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 (the TUPE Regulations) which implement the Acquired Rights Directive in the UK.

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Renewable Energy

Mr. Stunell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when she plans to publish the results of the review of renewable energy policy; and if she will make a statement. [50827]

Mr. Battle: The Government expect to make an announcement about the Review later in the summer.

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what research she has commissioned to assess the potential of renewable energy in contributing to the Government's 12.5 per cent. target for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. [51317]

Mr. Battle: In June 1997 the Government initiated a review of new and renewable energy policy, including what would be necessary and practicable to achieve 10 per cent. of the UK's electricity needs from renewables by the year 2010, and what contribution new and renewable technologies could make to meeting greenhouse gas reduction commitments. The Review is considering, inter alia, the current status and potential of the relevant new and renewable energy technologies. The Review is also addressing the need for research, development, demonstration and dissemination, and the barriers to the deployment of new and renewable energy and the measures which may be necessary to overcome them.

The Government expect to make an announcement about the Review later this summer.

Business Links

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment she has made of the latest survey of Business Links' level of activity, with particular reference to the number of small businesses using Business Links. [50013]

Mrs. Roche: In the period January to March 1998 just over 112,000 businesses in England used Business Link. Of those of known size, over 56,000 of these businesses had less than 10 employees, and more than 29,000 had from 10 to 49 employees.

Sombrero Island (Rocket-launching Platform)

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans she has to discuss with the Government and Governor of Anguilla the plans of Beale Aerospace to build a rocket-launching platform on Sombrero Island. [50127]

Mr. Battle: The Government's approach to the proposal by Beale Aerospace to develop a satellite launch site on Sombrero Island is being co-ordinated by the British National Space Centre (BNSC) which is seeking advice on the proposal from a range of Government Departments. Officials from BNSC are in close contact

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with both the Governor of Anguilla and officials from the Anguillan Government. I have no immediate plans to discuss the issue with the Governor or Government personally.

Science and Engineering Research

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) how much of the proposed £1.1 billion extra spending on science and engineering research will be spent in the North West; [51040]

Mr. Battle [holding answer 17 July 1998]: My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will make decisions on the allocation of the Science Budget in the usual way, being advised by the Director General of Research Councils (DGRC). Decisions on the Research Council's programmes will be announced in the Autumn. The Research Councils and other funded bodies will then take decisions on the basis of the quality of the proposal and its relevance to sustainable growth and quality of life. The arrangements for the £600 million joint Infrastructure Fund with the Wellcome Trust will involve the peer review of proposals, as agreed between the DGRC and the Director of the Wellcome Trust. It is not possible to specify in advance which research proposals at which universities/institutes will get funding.

European Monetary Union

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade in what ways she has been involved in the Government's consideration of European monetary union. [13040]

Mrs. Beckett: My Department is playing a full role in the key task of ensuring that British business is fully ready for the launch of the euro on 1 January next year. We are also working with business on what we must do to prepare for possible UK entry. In this way, the UK could be in a position to join early in the next parliament if the single currency is successful and if Government, Parliament and the people agree.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when she expects to answer the questions for answer on (a) 29 October 1997 (13040), (b) 28 January (25826), (c) 25 June (47544) and (d) 29 June (48339) from the right hon. Member for Wokingham. [51441]

Mrs. Beckett: I have answered q13040 today. The delay arose because the question did not appear in the electronic system used to transmit such information to my Parliamentary Branch, and we were thus unaware it had been tabled. Action has been taken which should prevent this recurring.

Q25826 was answered on 3 February and the text will appear in the bound volume of the Official Report.

I have answered q48339 today and will answer q47544 shortly.

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Hon. Members (Facilities)

37. Mr. Sheerman: To ask the President of the Council what steps she is taking to improve the range of facilities available to hon. Members to increase the effectiveness of their offices. [49613]

Mrs. Ann Taylor: The Accommodation and Works, Administration, Broadcasting and Information Committees have responsibilities which affect the effectiveness of Members offices and I am sure that those Committees would be willing to consider any specific matters within their terms of reference which my hon. Friend wishes to raise.

Staff Costs

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood), representing the House of Commons Commission, if he will make a statement on the impact on staff costs per week of the House sitting in August. [49609]

Mr. Kirkwood: Staff of the House are paid on an annual basis. If the House were to sit in August, the additional staff costs would therefore be confined to overtime and additional hours payments together with the cost of late night transport. The precise amount would depend on the hours of Sitting but could be of the order of £10,000 per week.

Refreshment Department

Mr. Baker: To ask the Chairman of the Catering Committee what ethical and environmental policies are in place in respect of the purchasing of food by the Refreshment Department. [49860]

Mr. Dennis Turner: In the purchasing of food, the Refreshment Department not only considers the price being offered, but also takes into account criteria such as the quality and wholesomeness of the produce available, food safety issues and consumer confidence; the latter requires the Department's procurement officer to be aware of ethical and environmental issues relating to the food chain and to advise the Department's management in order that customer confidence can be maintained at all times.

The Refreshment Department maintains purchasing guidelines which include the following food-related issues:

    2. the purchase of 'dolphin friendly' tinned and fresh tuna;

    3. the purchase of free-range eggs only;

    4. the purchase of coffee which has been accredited by the Fairtrade Foundation;

    5. to support the aims of the Lome Convention, specifically with reference to the purchase of Caribbean bananas and cane sugar;

    6. to encourage food suppliers to minimise the use of packaging materials and wherever practicable, to use packaging manufactured from recycled materials;

    7. to maximise the recycling of food packaging, disposable products, glass, plastics, cans and waste oils;

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    8. to maintain close contacts with organisations such as Freedom Foods, the Soil Association, the Fairtrade Foundation and others who operate schemes promoting the availability and quality of ethical or environmentally-friendly foods; in particular, to work with and encourage such organisations to extend their schemes into the catering food supply chain;

    9. to avoid, wherever identifiable, the procurement of foods which contain genetically modified organisms.

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