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Austria

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answer of 28 February 2000, Official Report, column 50W, on Austria, what is the intended effect of the agreed bilateral measures to which he referred. [113022]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 3 March 2000]: The effect of the agreed bilateral measures is that there will be no bilateral ministerial visits to or from Austria. Along with our other EU partners, the UK will not support Austrian candidates for positions at international organisations.

End-user Certificates (Africa)

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the dates on which end-user certification of exports were granted in 1998 and the scope of the certificates to countries involved in the

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conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo relating to (a) four-wheel drive and armoured vehicles sold to Angola, (b) military cargo vehicles to Uganda and (c)(i) military vehicles, (ii) combat aircraft and (iii) their components sold to Zimbabwe. [112701]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 6 March 2000]: As part of the process of assessing all applications for a licence to export arms or other goods on the Military List (Part III of Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994), including the goods referred to, exporters are required to supply information on the intended end-use and appropriate undertakings by the end-user concerned. Moreover, end-use certificates are not "granted" as part of the export licensing process. There is no process of "certification" as such but additional assurances are sought if this is considered necessary.

All such applications are of course considered against the criteria announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 28 July 1997, Official Report, columns 26-29W and, since June 1998, the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports.

Mineworkers Pension Schemes

Mr. Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many beneficiaries were drawing pensions from the mineworkers pension schemes BC SSS and the MPS in (a) 1994, (b) 1995, (c)1996, (d) 1997, (e) 1998 and (f) 1999. [112986]

Mrs. Liddell: These are matters for the Trustees of the coal pension schemes. I have asked them to write to you direct.

Funding Schemes

Mr. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the funding schemes administered by his Department, indicating the total funds of each scheme and the administration costs of each scheme as a percentage of the total funds. [112496]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 2 March 2000]: A detailed breakdown of the Department's activities is given in the annual Expenditure Plans Reports Trade and Industry: "The Government's Expenditure Plans (Cm 3905, Cm 3605, Cm 4211), published by the Stationery Office Limited". Information relating administration costs to programme expenditure is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, using information drawn from the 1998-99 Shadow Resource Accounts for the Department, the total cost of departmental objectives and the percentage that relates to administration costs are as follows:

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ObjectiveTotal (£000)Administration costs (£000)Percentage
Promote enterprise, innovation and increased productivity795,886168,64221
Make the most of the UK's science, engineering and technology1,332,48629,4032
Create strong and competitive markets2,231,67432,6371
Develop a fair and effective legal and regulatory framework366,173149,13641
Total4,726,219379,8188

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RDX Exports

Mr. Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what decisions have been taken on the applications that were pending in November 1999 for the export of RDX in its raw form to Oman, Spain, Turkey and the USA. [112938]

Dr. Howells: Licences were issued in respect of the applications covering the export of RDX in its raw form to Spain and the United States of America on 9 December 1999 and 23 December 1999 respectively. A decision has not yet been taken on the other applications concerned.

All applications for licences to export arms and other goods entered in Part III of Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994, commonly known as the Military List, are assessed against the criteria announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 28 July 1997, Official Report, columns 26-29W, and, since June 1998 the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports.

Kensington Mortgage Company

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has had with the relevant local trading standards offices concerning the activities of the Kensington Mortgage Company. [112783]

Dr. Howells: I have had no such discussions.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will order an inquiry into the lending practices of the Kensington Mortgage Company; [112782]

Dr. Howells: Most non-status lenders hold consumer credit licences issued by the Director General of Fair Trading. The Director monitors the continuing fitness of licence holders. He also monitors lenders' and brokers' compliance with his guidelines on non-status lending.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has had with the Council of Mortgage Lenders concerning the (a) commissions, (b) penalties and (c) other charges made by the Kensington Mortgage Company. [112779]

Dr. Howells: None.

Mortgage Sector

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to protect vulnerable consumers from high levels of commission rates charged by non-status lenders in the mortgage sector. [112778]

Dr. Howells: The Office of Fair Trading published guidelines for lenders and brokers in the non-status market in 1997 include guidance on lenders commission structure and disclosure of brokerage and other fees payable by the borrower. The Director General of Fair

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Trading has indicated that lenders and brokers who do not comply with the guidelines risk licensing action under the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what protection his Department provides to mortgagees in respect of the penal rates charged to consumers by mortgage lenders who fall behind in their payments. [112777]

Dr. Howells: If a mortgage loan is a regulated agreement under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, the lender cannot charge interest on arrears, when the borrower defaults, at a rate which exceeds the contractual rate of interest. The Act also contains provisions, not restricted to regulated agreements, which enable consumers to apply to the courts to have their credit bargains re-opened if they are extortionate. One of the factors the courts can take into account when considering whether a credit bargain is extortionate is prevailing interest rates at the time the agreement was made. Among other remedies, the court is able to alter the terms of the credit agreement or order the creditor to repay sums paid under the agreement to the borrower.

The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 provide that terms in standard form consumer contracts (other than terms about price or the subject matter of the contract) are not binding if they are unfair, and enable the Director General of Fair Trading and others to bring injunction proceedings before the courts.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what guidance his Department gives to mortgage lenders on appropriate levels of charges to their customers. [112780]

Dr. Howells: None. However, the Director General of Fair Trading's guidelines for non-status lenders and brokers require charges on default to be reasonable and do no more than cover the lender's administrative costs. The Director General has also issued guidelines under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 which say that it is unacceptable for lenders to vary interest rates at will unless consumers can end the contract immediately and without penalty.

Miners (Compensation)

Mr. Alan W. Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the total payments made to date to each firm of solicitors in South Wales involved in the compensation claims for (a) chest disease and (b) vibration white finger. [112480]

Mrs. Liddell: Payments to firms in South Wales to date are as follows:

£
(a) Chest diseases
Hugh James Ford Simey(6)5,393,222
Randell Saunders Phillips & Lloyd45,237
Thompsons (Cardiff)195,834
Morgan Cole10,426
Gabb & Co.1,366
Osborne Jones & Co940
David W. Harris & Co353
Leo Abse & Cohen294
T. S. Edwards1,058
Thomas & Co4,230
(b) Vibration white finger
Hugh James Ford Simey(7)933,988
Randell Saunders Phillips & Lloyd5,409
Thompsons (Cardiff)69,697
Gabb & Co15,843
Osborne Jones & Co705
Leo Abse & Cohen14,532
T. S. Edwards284,310
Thomas & Co457,839
Robertsons2,907
Edwards Geldard1,406
Fonseca & Partners12,338
Macquillan1,472
Everett & Tomlin1,581

(6) This includes some £5 million in respect of trial costs

(7) This includes some £290,000 in respect of trial costs


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