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Euro

Ms Lawrence: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans the Bank of England has to carry out further euro note printing trials. [83464]

Ms Hewitt: Having completed the pre-production trialing of the Euro notes due to be introduced in 2002, the European Central Bank has asked the Bank of England to assist with the next stage of technical preparations. This is to produce sample banknotes for each denomination to be used for reference purposes by those countries participating in production later this year. The bank will be involved in printing a further 1.5 million Euro 500 notes, which is equivalent to less than one day's normal production of Sterling notes. The cost of some £60,000 will be paid out of the proceeds of the note issue.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Departmental Legal Business

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on his Department's policy when (a) conducting legal proceedings and (b) seeking legal advice as to the circumstances in which Queen's Counsel should be instructed; and for each of the last three years (i) on how many occasions his Department instructed Queen's Counsel and (ii) what was the total cost of instructing Queen's Counsel. [81758]

Mr. Byers: The DTI's policy is similar to that of other departments. The Crown Prosecution Service, the Treasury Solicitor's Department, the Serious Fraud Office and the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers predominantly use junior counsel when it is necessary to instruct counsel to provide legal advice or to conduct legal proceedings.

In civil cases, the two First Treasury Counsel are both junior counsel and they will advise and represent the Government without a Queen's Counsel in many of their important cases. In addition, the Attorney-General maintains four panels of junior Counsel whom Departments are expected to use for the majority of the Government's civil litigation. The approval of the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General is required before a Queen's Counsel can be instructed to appear for any Government Department in civil litigation.

A panel of Standing Counsel who are all junior counsel, exists in London and the South Eastern circuit to provide advice and to handle most work at the Central Criminal Court and Crown Court in that area. More generally, the

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Department maintains circuit based lists of junior counsel to conduct almost all its criminal casework in the Crown Court in England and Wales. Within and outside London, Queen's Counsel are instructed occasionally in very serious or complex casework prosecuted by the Crown.

In determining the level of counsel to use, the Department will consider the individual circumstances of each case. It will take into account, inter alia, the importance and sensitivity of the case, the complexity of the law, the weight and complexity of the evidence, and the degree of experience and expertise required before deciding whether to instruct Queen's Counsel or junior counsel.

The number of occasions on which the Department has instructed Queen's Counsel in the last three years, and the cost of doing so, is not collected centrally and could not be obtained without incurring disproportionate cost.

Holiday Makers (Carbon Monoxide Poisoning)

Mr. Kemp: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he takes to ensure that holiday companies ensure that holiday makers are safe from carbon monoxide poisoning in accommodation rented through them abroad. [82652]

Dr. Howells: While the Government are, of course, concerned about the safety of British holidaymakers when travelling overseas, the safety standards applying to rented accommodation are subject to national regulation over which Her Majesty's Government have no jurisdiction.

Nevertheless, holiday companies, and others, in the United Kingdom offering or selling package holidays are covered by "The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992". The Regulations provide that those who offer package holidays are liable to consumers for the proper performance of contracts, including, amongst other things, supplying accommodation which is safe.

Disqualified Accountants

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the accountants who have been disqualified from public practice as a result of the criticisms of their conduct in his Department's inspectors' reports in the past 10 years. [82674]

Dr. Howells: Disciplinary action is a matter for the accountancy body responsible. The following table details accountants who have been mentioned in inspectors' reports and who have been either excluded or suspended from membership of their accountancy body in the past ten years.

Companies Act Inspection Name of individualDisciplinary action
Edencorp plcMr. G. J. CookExclusion
Barlow Clowes Gilt Managers LimitedMr. J. A. B. Pilkington Mr. D. C. MitchellExclusion Exclusion
James Ferguson Holdings plcMr. C. F. NewmanExclusion
Mr. I. M. CrabtreeSuspension for 1 year
Atlantic Computers plcMr. P. L. GoldieExclusion
Atlantic Computer Systems plc


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Accounting Firms (Money Laundering)

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the powers available to him for investigating the affairs of accountancy firms judged by the High Court to have knowingly laundered money. [82648]

Dr. Howells: The Department has no powers as envisaged by my hon. Friend; money laundering is primarily a matter for the police and the conduct of accountancy firms for their professional body.

Arms Exports (Yugoslavia)

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will place in the Library the documents relating to arms exports to Yugoslavia or the former Yugoslavia involving the defence contractors BMARC and Astra. [82703]

Dr. Howells: The statutory and accounting records of Astra Holdings plc and Springfield Road Limited, formerly known as British Manufacture and Research Co. Ltd (BMARC), are under the control of the official receiver following their winding up by the court.

Access to the records is governed by insolvency legislation and the direction of the court and, as such, at this time there is no proposal to remove the records from the official receiver who will continue to consider requests to inspect them.

Competition

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he is taking to improve the enforcement of fair competition in the United Kingdom economy. [82690]

Dr. Howells: The Competition Act 1998 will introduce tough new powers to deal with anti-competitive agreements and abuses of market dominance when its main provisions are brought into force on 1 March 2000. These include strong powers of investigation, a power to take interim measures where necessary pending the completion of an investigation, powers to direct undertakings to bring infringements to an end and powers to impose penalties for breach of the prohibitions. The Director General of Fair Trading has the main responsibility for enforcement of the new Act and extra resources have been provided to the Office of Fair Trading for that purpose.

Fair Trade Products

Ms Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what arrangements his Department is proposing to introduce for the provision of fair trade products (a) at meetings, (b) in its catering facilities and (c) at events sponsored by it. [82744]

Mr. Byers: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary today, Official Report, column 410.

Milk Marque

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answer of 28 April 1999, Official Report, column 203, if he will indicate the

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timetable for addressing each consideration delaying the publication of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report on Milk Marque. [83038]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 4 May 1999]: Publication of the report is not delayed. The guidance referred to in my previous answer explains that there is no statutory deadline for publication of MMC monopoly reports, and sets out the factors which may affect timing.

It is the Department's view that quoting expected publication dates may provoke unwarranted speculation. The content of reports is invariably commercially sensitive and we do not wish to damage companies by encouraging speculation.

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answer of 13 April 1999, Official Report, column 95, on the milk market investigation, what practical obstacles are preventing the publication of the MMC report on the supply of milk. [82858]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 30 April 1999]: The Department of Trade and Industry has provided information about the publication arrangements for monopoly reports at paragraphs 8.1-8.3 of its publication "Guidance on DTI procedures for handling Monopoly references and reports", a copy of which is in the Library of the House.


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