Previous Section Index Home Page

British Nuclear Fuels

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he has received a copy of the report prepared by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. for Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance Ltd.; and if he will place a copy of the report in the Library. [112567]

Mrs. Liddell: I have not received a copy of the report. This is a matter between BNFL and Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance.

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry If he will make a statement in respect of the supply of MOX fuel by BNFL to Germany. [112032]

Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 1 March 2000]: I understand that BNFL has reviewed all the records for quality assurance checks carried out on MOX fuel supplied to its German customer, Preussen Electra. In the case of the record for one of the pellet lots concerned, BNFL found that in 1996 a set of data collected from a secondary manual sample check of pellet diameter

6 Mar 2000 : Column: 465W

measurements, which had already been confirmed as acceptable, was inadvertently deleted from a computer. The lost data were replaced with data collected from the same check carried out on a previous pellet lot. BNFL considers that all other secondary pellet diameter checks for MOX produced for its German customer have been properly carried out and recorded. The MOX supplied by BNFL has been operating satisfactorily in the reactor in Germany since 1997. The HSE states in its report that it is satisfied that the fuel manufactured in the MOX Demonstration Facility will be safe in use. This view is based on the robustness of the fuel manufacturing process and the totality of the checks made on the key parameters. However, BNFL's customer has decided to shut the unit down and replace the fuel assemblies concerned.

Miners (Compensation)

Mr. Alan W. Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the total of payments made to date to NACODS South Wales area as reimbursement of costs incurred in the compensation claims for (a) chest disease and (b) vibration white finger. [112481]

Mrs. Liddell: The Government make no payments direct to NACODS South Wales area.

Under the arrangements agreed between the DTI and the Claimants' Solicitor's Groups for chest diseases and vibration white finger, the Government pay any costs or reasonable disbursements falling due direct to the solicitors. Any arrangement whereby Unions recover sums from the solicitors is strictly a matter for the parties concerned.

Mr. Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is his estimate of the compensation that will be paid out over the next three years to miners and miners' widows in respect of (a) chronic bronchitis and emphysema and (b) vibration white finger in (i) Scotland and (ii) the UK. [112961]

Mrs. Liddell: Over the next three years we currently estimate that compensation will be paid as follows:

These estimates are subject to considerable change. Firmer figures will become available only once significant numbers of claimants for both diseases have been through the full assessment procedures.

Balkans (Regeneration)

Mr. Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he has taken to publicise the opportunities for British firms to take part in the regeneration of (a) Kosovo and (b) other Balkan states. [112960]

Mr. Caborn: On the initiative of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, British Trade International set up the joint Government/private sector Kosovo Taskforce to co-ordinate and promote the UK's response to the reconstruction opportunities in the province. The

6 Mar 2000 : Column: 466W

Taskforce has done much to publicise the opportunities for British companies to play a part in the regeneration of Kosovo. Indeed, arising out of the Taskforce's activities, a consortium of British companies, with financial support from British Trade International, was awarded the concession to manage Kosovo's power sector over the seven months from last October; this is helping ensure that the people of Kosovo get through the harsh winter. Through help from the Taskforce, another British consortium was awarded the contract for the first phase of the upgrading of Pristina airport.

During my visit to Kosovo last October, it was clear that the good will arising out of both contracts should help UK companies compete for other business, not only in these two sectors but also in other areas of activity. This will be particularly important as Kosovo moves into the next phase of recovery, with strategic infrastructure projects, designed to help secure its longer term future, being put out to competitive tender by the international agencies. I am confident that I will see UK companies making even more progress when I again visit Kosovo in June. British Trade International has posted an official to the British Office in Pristina on a short-term basis to draw the attention of appropriate companies to opportunities in Kosovo and to assist those seeking to capitalise on them; resources have been secured for the next financial year to fund this post for the longer term.

To keep the business community abreast of commercial developments in Kosovo, British Trade International has set up a website: its address is This includes information on the activities of the Taskforce and the international funding agencies--including information on projects they are funding. Kosovo has been an early and demanding test of British Trade International; it has been widely praised by the private sector for all its initiatives there.

Many companies regard Kosovo as the springboard for entry to the wider South East Europe region (the Balkans) which presents significantly more business opportunities; these are highlighted on the Kosovo website. Through promotional events such as seminars, support for trade fairs and missions, British Trade International continues to draw the attention of UK companies to commercial opportunities generally in all the markets of the region.

National Minimum Wage

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the number of working women in England and Wales who have benefited from the introduction of the national minimum wage. [112916]

Mr. Alan Johnson: It is estimated that some 1.5 million workers in England and Wales became entitled to higher pay as a direct result of the introduction of the national minimum wage in April 1999. The Low Pay Commission report estimates that around two-thirds of the beneficiaries are women.

Export Credits Guarantee Department

Mr. Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the unrecovered loans issued by the Export Credits Guarantee Department (a) between 1979 and April 1997 and (b) since May

6 Mar 2000 : Column: 467W

1997 which are attributable to defence related contracts, including details of (i) equipment, (ii) country and (iii) financial amount. [112959]

Mr. Caborn: The information readily available is as follows:

£ million
CountryValue of claims outstanding

The equipment supplied under these contracts includes aircraft, artillery, naval vessels, vehicles, communications and ancillary equipment.

Post Offices (Easington)

Mr. Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the number and location of crown and sub-post offices in the Easington constituency and the amount of Benefit Agency work carried out by each post office as a percentage of its business. [112805]

Mr. Alan Johnson: I understand from the Post Office that in October 1999 there were 23 post offices, all sub-post offices, within the Easington parliamentary constituency. Of these, 19 derive 40 per cent. or more of their work load from the Benefits Agency. It is not Post Office policy to identify individual offices by the volumes and nature of business transacted.

EU Structural Funds

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress he has made in meeting the requirements of the European Commission for the securing of public sector funding for the Objective 1 programme for Merseyside. [112940]

Mr. Caborn: It is for the Merseyside partnership to satisfy the European Commission's requirements for approval of the Single Programming Document for the Merseyside Objective 1 programme. However, my Department, other Government Departments and the Government Office for the North West are assisting the Merseyside partnership in negotiations with the Commission and in other ways, notably identifying match funding.

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to co-ordinate Government activities relating to the Objective 1 programme for Merseyside and those of other Objective 1 areas. [112941]

6 Mar 2000 : Column: 468W

Mr. Caborn: Responsibility for the Merseyside Objective 1 rests primarily with the Merseyside partnership. The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions leads for the Government on regional policy in England. My Department is in contact with the three English Objective 1 areas and is assisting in negotiations with the European Commission as well as co-ordinating the response of all the Government Departments concerned with central government match funding for the English Objective 1 programmes.

Next Section Index Home Page