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Motor Industry (State Aid)

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answer of 17 April 2000, Official Report, column 323W, concerning state aid to the motor industry, where the EU publishes information about rules and criteria for these purposes. [120741]

Mr. Alan Johnson: Under Article 87(1) of the Treaty of Rome (as amended by Amsterdam), the Commission may develop 'appropriate measures' for State aid by issuing frameworks or codes. These frameworks describe the practice the Commission intends to follow when examining aid proposals, and generally set limits on the intensity of assistance which may be paid within the State aid rules.

The framework are published in the Official Journal, and are available in full on the Commission's website at www.europa.eu.int/comm/dg04/lawaid.htm.

The Official Journal reference for the Motor Vehicle framework is: OJ C279, 15.9.1997.p1.

Employment and Tribunal Claims

Ms Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answer of 13 April 2000, Official Report, columns 273-76W, concerning employment and tribunal claims, if he will make it his policy to produce separate statistics for Wales, England and Scotland; and if he will provide the figures requested on that basis. [121045]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The Employment Tribunals Service (ETS) records information on tribunal applications, for statistical purposes, by the office where they are handled rather than by the place where the action arose. ETS offices may, for operational and judicial reasons, handle cases arising in England or Wales and it is not therefore possible to provide figures in the form requested. Tribunals operate within the same policy framework across Great Britain and I have no plans to change the current policy on provision of such figures.

Telecommunications Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the outcome of the Telecommunications Council held in Brussels on 2 May; and if he will make a statement. [120991]

8 May 2000 : Column: 283W

Ms Hewitt: There was an orientation debate on the review of the regulatory framework for electronic communications. During the debate all member states supported the general approach of the Commission on regulation of access to infrastructures in order to promote competition. A number, including the UK, welcomed the Commission's proposal that regulation should be on a co-regulatory basis with business where possible. Regarding the new institutional structure, member states welcomed the Commission's intention to build on the existing structure, but define the roles of any new bodies. On the scope of universal service, most member states, including the UK, supported the Commission's proposal to retain the existing scope of universal service, but to keep this under review.

The Commission presented its Communication on the World Radiocommunication Conference 2000 and the Council adopted Conclusions giving broad support to the Communication.

The Commission also presented a number of recent or forthcoming Communications concerning: the results of its consultation on creation of the EU internet top level domain; organisation and management of the internet; unbundled access to the local loop; and gave an update on the forthcoming postal services liberalisation Directive. The Council also noted Presidency reports on the outcome of the Conference on Digital Terrestrial Television, and the Ministerial Conference on Knowledge and the Information Society held in Lisbon on 17-18 February and 10-11 April 2000 respectively.

A3XX Project

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assumptions were made in his Department's appraisal of the A3XX project about the likely demand for these aircraft from airlines flying into and out of UK airports, with specific reference to Heathrow. [121027]

Mr. Alan Johnson: In appraising the A3XX project the Department undertook a full market study of the aircraft's prospects. Details of this report are commercially confidential, but a key market rationale of the A3XX is to carry large numbers of passengers from hub to hub. We would therefore expect Heathrow to be one of the airports where the A3XX would operate. The A3XX has been designed to meet the most stringent environment and noise standards.

Assisted Areas Map

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will re-include the Farnworth and Kearsley wards in the assisted status map as it affects the Bolton metropolitan borough. [120846]

Mr. Caborn: The consultation period on the amended proposals for the new Assisted Areas ended on 2 May. The Government are considering carefully the representations received, including those relating to Bolton, and will be discussing the representations received with the European Commission. The new Assisted Areas are subject to approval by the Commission.

8 May 2000 : Column: 284W

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what information about wards included in and excluded from the assisted areas map was given to representatives of the media by (a) ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) officials in his Department before Monday 10 April. [121049]

Mr. Caborn: No advance information about wards included in or excluded from the revised assisted areas map was distributed to the media before Monday 10 April.

Zenith Milk

Dr. Marek: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if Zenith Milk will be permitted to process milk. [120807]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 5 May 2000]: The Director General of Fair Trading (DGFT) has advised that Milk Link, Axis and Zenith, the three successors to Milk Marque, have been operating independent arrangements for the marketing and selling of their members' milk this winter.

Following that advice, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced on 2 May that, on the basis that the assurances given last year of independent operation will continue to be observed, he can see no reason why Milk Link, Axis, and Zenith should not establish or extend their processing activities if they choose to do so.

The assurances given were that all policy making and selling of milk would be carried out independently by each of the successors with no joint ventures between the new businesses in marketing or processing milk, with no common directors and no shareholdings by any one of the new businesses in either of the others. Milk Marque also stated that they would not supply to the successor bodies, after 31 March 2001, central services which could not be split prior to the reorganisation which took place last year.

Should the new businesses choose to extend their processing activities through acquisition they will of course be subject to the merger provisions under competition law in the same way as any other company. In addition, Milk Link, Axis and Zenith must, like all undertakings, operate their businesses in accordance with both domestic and European competition law.

Second Class Post

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on his policy on the future of the second class post. [121267]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The Government have no proposals to abolish second class mail. The Post Office tell me that no such proposals have been submitted to the Post Office Board, nor are any expected.

Ilisu Dam

Ms Kingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answer of 13 April 2000, Official Report, column 273W, which British banks are included in the lending syndicate for the Ilisu Dam project. [121019]

8 May 2000 : Column: 285W

Mr. Caborn: The lending syndicate for the Ilisu Dam project has not yet been formed, and is unlikely to be formed until after the export credit agencies have made their decisions regarding support for the project.

Sudan

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has had with BP Amoco concerning its investment with Talisman Energy and the China National Petroleum Corporation operating in Sudan. [120269]

Mr. Caborn [pursuant to his reply, on 2 May 2000, c. 29W]: I would like to point out that BP Amoco has no operations or investment in Sudan. Furthermore, BP Amoco's business and ethical policies preclude such involvement.

WALES

Corus

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent meetings he has had with Corus; and if he will make a statement. [120930]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I have had meetings with the Chief Executive of Corus and visited the Corus Steelworks at Shotton.

The Government recognise that Corus is one of the most efficient steel producers.

The Government fully understand the importance of a successful manufacturing sector; steel is making a vital contribution to the economy and employment.


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