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Prison Labour

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the Governments his Department made representations to in 1998 on the use of prison labour in the manufacture of goods imported into the United Kingdom. [77600]

Mr. Wilson: My Department has neither made nor received representations about the import of prison made goods.

Argentina

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the visits made to Argentina in 1998 by Ministers in his Department. [77599]

Mr. Wilson: There were no visits to Argentina by Ministers in my Department during 1998.

Northern Cyprus

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what checks are made on goods imported into the United Kingdom to ensure they were not manufactured in the occupied area of Northern Cyprus; and if he will make a statement. [77601]

Mr. Wilson: None.

Export Promotion Directorate

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many visits abroad have been made by officials in the Export Promotion Directorate since 1 January. [77746]

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Mr. Wilson: This information is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many staff are employed in his Department's Export Promotion Directorate; and of these how many are (a) women and (b) from ethnic minorities. [77745]

Mr. Wilson: The Department currently employs 632 staff in the Export Promotion Directorates, of these (a) 255 are female and (b) 118 are known to be from ethnic minorities.

Exports (Gulf States)

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on his Department's export promotion activities in (a) Oman, (b) Bahrain, (c) Saudi Arabia and (d) the UAE. [77744]

Mr. Wilson: Our export promotion activities for these markets are contained in the Markets and Sectors Matrix, published on 4 March, a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House. We provide a range of help for exporters to all these markets, including targeted market information, market research services and, where appropriate, support for missions and trade fairs.

Petrol Retail Prices

Mr. Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what has been the percentage change in pre-tax petrol retail prices over the last two years. [78007]

Mr. Battle: Excluding duty and VAT, unleaded petrol prices have fallen by 32 per cent. between February 1997 and February 1999.

Oil Prices

Mr. Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what has been the percentage change in oil prices over the last two years. [78109]

Mr. Battle: The average price of crude oil, acquired by UK refineries, fell by 53 per cent. between February 1997 and February 1999.

Gas-fired Power Stations

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will (a) list the consents he has refused for gas-fired power stations and (b) estimate the proposed investments in each station by those applying for the consents. [78013]

Mr. Battle: In accordance with the policy set out in the White Paper entitled "Conclusions of The Review of Energy Sources for Power Generation and Government Response to fourth and fifth Reports of the Trade and Industry Committee" (Cm 4071) the following proposals have not been granted clearance:






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The level of investment involved is a commercial matter for the companies.

Energy Regulator

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what preparations are being made by the Energy Regulator in respect of his responsibilities under the Competition Act 1998; what increase in staff is required; and what action is being taken to co-ordinate policy with the Director General of Fair Trading. [77688]

Mr. Battle: The Office of Gas Supply (Ofgas) and Office of Electricity Regulation (OFFER) are members of the Concurrency Working Party (CWP), chaired by the Office of Fair Trading. The CWP is working to ensure that a consistent approach is being taken by all regulators on areas of training, internal procedures for the investigation of cases, IT requirements and guidance for industry. At present it is unclear if further staff will be required in Ofgas and OFFER to undertake work resulting from the prohibitions in the Competition Act coming into force in March 2000.

Naturally, the Director General of Electricity and Gas Supply is aware of the need to ensure that the appropriate level of trained staff is in place to deal with these new responsibilities. A guideline, "Concurrent Application to Regulated Industries", which deals with how regulators work with the Director General of Fair Trading (DGFT) and with each other, has been produced by the CWP and issued by the DGFT. In February, the DTI issued a consultation document "Concurrency: consultation on the possible need and scope for regulations".

New Roads and Street Works Act 1991

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many representations from local authorities complaining about the provisions of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 he has received since 1 May 1997. [78056]

Mr. Battle: My Department has received one representation from a local authority.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Civil Court Fees

Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) what estimate he has made of the cost to the Legal Aid Fund of civil court fees in the next financial year; [77344]

Mr. Hoon: As I told my hon. Friend on 8 February 1999, Official Report, column 14, the Legal Aid board does not record separately the amounts paid from the Legal Aid Fund in respect of civil court fees; court

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fees are recorded under the general heading of 'disbursements'. Therefore no reliable estimate of the cost to legal aid of civil court fees is possible.

County Courts

Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department how many county courts are due for closure in the current financial year. [77350]

Mr. Hoon: Seven county courts have closed during the current financial year. No further closures are planned for the remainder of this financial year.

Access to Justice

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on the recommendations made by the Law Commission in its 1994 report "Administrative Law, Judicial Review and Statutory Appeals" and by Lord Woolf in Chapter 18 of his 1996 report "Access to Justice". [77082]

Mr. Hoon: The Lord Chancellor has decided to establish a full Review of the High Court 'Crown Office List', which includes, for example, habeas corpus and the judicial review of administrative decisions. The Review, under the chairmanship of Sir Jeffery Bowman, will be fundamental. It will consider, not only the recommendations made by the Law Commission and Lord Woolf, but also the Rules, procedures, jurisdiction, organisation and work of the Crown Office List.

Green Transport Plan

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department what involvement fleet managers have had in drawing up his Department's Green Transport Plan. [77962]

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Mr. Hoon: There are separate Green Transport Plans for the Headquarters of the Lord Chancellor's Department, the Court Service and the Public Trust Office. All fleet managers have been consulted in drawing up the plans.

Freemasons

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department what the latest figures are for the declaration of membership of the freemasons among the judiciary, together with the numbers from whom replies have not yet been received; and if he will break down the figures between (a) the professional judiciary and magistrates and (b) men and women. [78053]

Mr. Hoon: All serving members of the judiciary were invited by the Lord Chancellor to declare on a voluntary basis whether they were freemasons. Responses are still being processed and analysed. The latest figures available are given in the table, but these remain subject to revision in the light of new replies and further analysis. In addition, all new appointees to judicial office are now required as a condition of appointment to state whether or not they are freemasons, and if not, required to notify the Lord Chancellor if they subsequently join. Declarations obtained from new appointees are also in the process of being collated.

Register of freemasons among judiciary: interim responses

Professional judiciaryLay magistracy (13)
Forms sent out5,29024,964
Declared non-mason4,74420,300
Declared mason:
Male2601,176
Female332
Status not disclosed:
Male65413
Female5186
No reply received2132,857

(13) Excluding the Duchy of Lancaster