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Robert Hamill

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Prime Minister what representations he has received requesting that a judicial inquiry be held into the circumstances surrounding the murder of Robert Hamill; and if he will make a statement. [95356]

The Prime Minister: The Government have received a number of requests for an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Robert Hamill. Whilst an inquiry has not been ruled out the Government take the view that this ought not to be considered while there is the possibility of disciplinary proceedings by the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary against police officers following the (Northern Ireland) Director of Public Prosecution's direction of no prosecution on 30 September 1999.

Intergovernmental Conference

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister if fisheries policy will be negotiated at the forthcoming intergovernmental conference. [95786]

The Prime Minister: No. The Common Fisheries Policy will be reviewed in 2002.


Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister which is the lead Department in considering the effects of the drug pyridostigmine bromide in relation to the report of the RAND Corporation for the San Diego Veterans' Affairs Medical Centre. [95658]

The Prime Minister: The Ministry of Defence is taking the lead in considering the report of the review, by the RAND Corporation, of the scientific literature on pyridostigmine bromide as it pertains to Gulf War illnesses.

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Former Paymaster General

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the officials in his Department who have held discussions with (a) the hon. Member for Coventry, North-West (Mr. Robinson) or (b) his representatives concerning the content of his memoirs. [95874]

The Prime Minister: None.


Departmental Publications

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list his Department's spending on official publications since May 1997. [93679]

Dr. Howells: The spending on official publications since May 1997, which includes the costs incurred by the Department in publishing, preparation and production, was £13,206,319. This excludes the cost of publications produced for internal use. Where the Department makes use of a private sector publisher the publishing, printing and design costs are generally met by the publisher as part of their acceptance of the risks of publication.

In addition, my Department spent £221,154 on purchase of copies for official use from The Stationery Office between April 1997 and March 1999. Due to changes in ordering and payment systems this information is no longer held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Helium-Neon Lasers

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much income his Department has received from Patent GB222 6443 Helium-Neon Lasers; when the patent came into force; and when it is due to expire. [94465]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 19 October 1999]: My Department has received income of £29,800 from patent "GB222 6443 Helium-Neon Lasers". It was filed on 5 May 1988, was granted on 8 January 1992 and is due to expire in 2008.

Y2K Product Liability

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on policy towards year 2000 product liability. [95409]

Dr. Howells: Computer equipment which is sold as year 2000 compliant and accessory equipment designed to fix systems so that they will be year 2000 compliant are subject to the Sale of Goods Act 1979. This requires goods to be of satisfactory quality and fit for their intended purpose. People suffering harm from defective products may have a right to compensation under Part I of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 which implemented the EC Product Liability Directive (85/374/EEC) into UK law.

Social Chapter

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list those proposals within the social chapter remit which (a) have been placed before

26 Oct 1999 : Column: 774

the Council since United Kingdom accession to that Chapter and (b) are currently being drafted; and what has been United Kingdom policy on each. [95296]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The Social Chapter proposals placed before the Council since the United Kingdom's accession to that Chapter are:

    a Directive concerning a Framework Agreement on Fixed-term Work (1999/70/EC) was forwarded to the Council on 30 April 1999. We support the aim of ensuring that fixed term contracts are not abused, while retaining flexibility. In implementing the directive, we will ensure that people's freedom to enter into contracts which suit their circumstances is not limited; and finally,

    a Commission proposal for a Council directive establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Community (13099/98, COM (98)612) was forwarded by the Commission to the Council on 17 November 1998. The Government is not persuaded of the need for a directive on information and consultation in undertakings operating only at national level, which is difficult to reconcile with subsidiarity and would cut across existing practices in member states to no benefit.

I am not aware of any further Social Chapter proposals being drafted by the Commission.

Ilisu Dam

Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects the Export Credits Guarantee Department to make a final decision on whether to extend UK export credit support for British firms involved in the construction of the Ilisu Dam in Turkey. [95160]

Mr. Caborn: ECGD is some way from taking a final decision on the project. The issues are currently being considered with other interested Government Departments. There will also be further discussion with the export credit agencies supporting other contractors involved in the project.

Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will publish the environmental and social impact assessments of the Ilisu Dam arrived at by the Government before a final decision is taken on whether or not to extend export credit support for the British firms involved. [95161]

Mr. Caborn: It is intended to publish the independent reports commissioned by the Export Credits Guarantee Department on the environment and social impacts of Ilisu before a final decision is taken on whether or not to extend export credit support.

Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what meetings have taken place between his Department and Balfour Beatty on the matter of the Ilisu Dam. [95162]

Mr. Caborn: Since receiving Balfour Beatty's application for support on Ilisu, ECGD has held four meetings with Balfour Beatty. There have also been six meetings on the project at which both ECGD and Balfour Beatty were among the participants, three with other UK Government Departments and three with the other export credit agencies.

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Icecream Industry

Ms Kingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when his Department will publish its response to the Competition Commission's report into the icecream industry. [95079]

Dr. Howells: The Competition Commission report on impulse icecream will be published as quickly as is practicable. I cannot comment on the likely publication date of the report, which remains confidential until publication. Copies of the report will be laid before Parliament at the same time as it is published.

World Trade Organisation

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what outcomes the Government aims to achieve at the forthcoming trade round in Seattle. [95289]

Mr. Caborn: The Government hope that a comprehensive Round of negotiations will be launched at Seattle with a negotiating agenda which reflects the interests of all members of the World Trade Organisation in a substantial new package of trade liberalisation and will be guided by the aim of sustainable development.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations he has received concerning reform of the World Trade Organisation. [95290]

Mr. Caborn: The Government have received a range of representations many of which support the UK's and EU's call for the launch of a comprehensive Round of trade negotiations at Seattle. Some have expressed the desire to see the pace of liberalisation stopped and a review undertaken of existing World Trade Organisation Agreements. In such cases, the Government have explained that we need a new Round to keep up the pace of liberalisation to promote growth in the world economy, jobs for our people and resist protectionist pressures which threaten us all. At the same time, the Government accept that more can be done to strengthen the World Trade Organisation through increased transparency and dialogue. This communication effort is very much the responsibility of national governments and the UK is committed to playing its full part.

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