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Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions are taking place in the Office of Science and Technology concerning the future of the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils. 
Ms Hewitt: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced the terms of reference for the quinquennial review of the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils in his reply to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Burden) on 13 June 2000, Official Report, columns 596-97W.
Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans are being considered for the future of the Daresbury Laboratory as a scientific research establishment after 2007. 
Ms Hewitt: The future of Daresbury laboratory is a matter for the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) which, under its Royal Charter, is responsible for the staff and resources under its control. Further to this, the Government have recognised the need to consider Daresbury's role in the North West Science Base and have commissioned two reviews to consider this matter. I refer the hon. Member to the announcements of the North West Science Review on 27 April 2000 and the North West Science and Daresbury Development Group on 9 June 2000, Official Report, column 388W.
Mr. Caborn: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced the introduction of Enterprise Grant Areas in England on 15 July 1999, Official Report, column 275W. Small and medium sized enterprises in the Enterprise Grant Areas and in Tiers 1 and 2 of the Assisted areas are eligible to apply for Enterprise Grants. The introduction of Enterprise Grant Areas significantly increased the number of areas in England where small and medium sized enterprises could apply for grants to support investment.
Dr. Howells: According to Departmental records, a total of 46 complaints were received in the last 12 months in relation to the pricing of foreign package holidays. Seventeen of these were from the same person.
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Dr. Howells [holding answer 4 July 2000]: The Director General of Fair Trading advises this Department on the competition issues raised in cases that have fallen to the EC Merger Regulation. The Secretary of State will assess whether Western Power Distribution Limited's proposed acquisition of Hyder Plc meets the tests laid down in the EC Merger Regulation by which member states can request referral of cases from the Commission and whether to request such a referral in the light of the DGFT's advice.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a draft regulatory impact assessment in advance of the announcement of the conclusions of the review of the Export Credits Guarantee Department. 
Dr. Howells: Under UK competition law in the first instance, it is the responsibility of the Director General of Fair Trading (DGFT) to investigate allegations of anti-competitive behaviour and possible abuses of a dominant position.
Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has held with small business organisations concerning his proposals to pay subsidies to sub-post offices. 
Mr. Byers: In preparing their report "Counter Revolution: Modernising the Post Office Network", the Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) had discussions with a number of organisations representing small businesses. In addition, both the PIU and I have had extensive discussions with the National Federation of
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Subpostmasters about the Government's proposals for financial assistance to modernise and improve the sub-post office network.
Mr. Byers: The European Competition Commissioner has been informed about the new package of measures to modernise the post office network. Throughout the process of developing detailed projects officials will work in close consultation with the European Commission.
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what recent discussions he has had with the European Commission about the legality of granting subsidies to post offices; 
Mr. Byers: As all sub-post offices are privately owned and operated, there can be many different reasons leading to a decision to close and there is no accurate way of forecasting future closure levels. However, the Post Office seeks to maintain post office services wherever possible and this policy is being reinforced by the Government's requirement on the Post Office to maintain the rural network and to prevent any avoidable closures of rural post offices.
Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will place in the Library a copy of the research by Christie and Co., referred to on page 62 of the Performance and Innovation Unit's report into the post office network. 
Mr. Byers: Christie and Co. provided information about sub-post offices to the Performance and Innovation Unit on an exclusive and confidential basis as the information was and is commercially sensitive. I am therefore unable to place a copy of this research in the Library of the House.
Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what estimate he has made of the level of remuneration sub-post masters will receive for acting as Government general practitioners; and if he will make a statement; 
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(3) if the Government intend to provide financial support for the improvement of the urban post office network recommended on page 88 of the Performance and Innovation Unit's report into the post office network; 
(4) what estimate he has made of the (a) setting up cost and (b) annual running cost of the universal bank; 
(5) if benefit claimants who opt to receive their benefits in cash from a post office following the switch to ACT will be required to have a bank account; 
(6) what plans he has for delivery of funds to support post offices in urban deprived areas; 
(7) what estimate he has made of the income to the Post Office which will be generated by the universal bank; 
(8) what estimate he has made of the impact on the income of sub-post offices if those people who do not have a bank account at present start to pay utility bills by direct debit following the introduction of the universal bank; 
(9) how much funding he will commit to improve post offices in deprived areas. 
Mr. Byers: I refer the hon. Member to my statement and subsequent exchanges on 28 June 2000, Official Report, columns 907-20, and the PIU report also published on 28 June, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House and the Vote Office.
Mr. Byers: I understand from the Post Office that they do not have a percentage breakdown of rural post offices which currently have an ISDN line, but every post office will have an ISDN line or equivalent satellite link by February 2001.
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