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Weights and Measures

Mr. Wilkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the cost to British traders of the law requiring goods to be sold in metric units. [130267]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 12 July 2000]: A compliance cost assessment was published by the Department of Trade and Industry in 1994, when the legislation was made to require loose goods to be sold in metric weights after 31 December 1999. The main cost for traders was identified as the conversion or replacement of imperial weighing machines. The average cost of conversion was estimated to be £100 per machine. The starting price for replacement was estimated to be £450 per machine. It was further estimated that 80 per cent. of machines were capable of conversion.

Mr. Wilkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what the total cost to his Department will be in the financial year 2000-01 of the salaries of the trading standards officers employed by his Department to enforce the law requiring the sale of goods in metric units; [130268]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 12 July 2000]: The Department of Trade and Industry is not responsible for enforcing the use by traders of prescribed units of measurement for the sale of goods. Enforcement is undertaken by the local authorities, as part of their wider responsibility for trading standards. Each authority decides how many staff it will employ on trading standards work, and the allocation of staff time (and therefore of staff costs) between the different areas of enforcement.

Mr. Wilkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on (a) the seizure of weighing equipment by trading standards officers of his Department from traders whom

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they believe to be in breach of the law requiring goods to be sold in metric units and (b) the procedures available to them to obtain the restitution of their property from his Department. [130269]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 12 July 2000]: Weights and measures legislation includes powers for local authority inspectors of weights and measures to seize and detain equipment in circumstances where they believe the equipment is liable to be forfeited. This would apply, for example, to equipment being used without a valid stamp on it, to equipment which is false or unjust, or which was being used in the commission of fraud.

Where prosecution followed, it would be for the courts to determine whether the equipment should be forfeited. Otherwise it would be returned to the owner.

Appointments (Women)

Mr. Allan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many and what percentage of the (a) paid and (b) unpaid appointments which he has made to non-departmental public bodies since 1 May 1997 were women. [129855]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 12 July 2000]: Of the appointments I have made to non-departmental public bodies since 1 May 1997:

This Government are committed to increasing the representation of women in public life. In support of this, the Department has drawn up an action plan for increasing the number of women and ethnic minorities holding public appointments. The latest plan, together with the Government's overall plan, was published on 24 May 2000 in "Quangos: Opening up Public Appointments 2000-2003", copies of which are in the Libraries of the House.

Minimum Wage

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to uprate the national minimum wage. [128952]

Mr. Byers: As indicated in the reply I gave to my hon. Friend on 30 March 2000, Official Report, column 237W, we have now asked the Low Pay Commission to continue to monitor and evaluate the impact of the minimum wage and to consider whether there is a case for a further increase in the rate next year. The commission will report by July 2001 and any further increase will be introduced in October 2001.


GM Crops

Jackie Ballard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to consult local authorities concerning GM trial sites. [127794]

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Mr. Meacher: Current legislation does not at present include provision for consulting local authorities over the location of GM trial sites.

However, the Government have made clear their commitment to an open and transparent process for informing people about the trials. Locations of all proposed sites for research trials are advertised before sowing commences. Full details of the locations of farm scale evaluation sites are on the DETR website, along with detailed information about the programme. A number of public meetings were held during the spring, to which parish and ward councillors with a trial site in their area were invited. We remain committed to making as much information available to local people as possible and are currently drawing on lessons from the spring in planning for future planting rounds, including earlier notification.


Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Harrogate and

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Knaresborough (Mr. Willis), of 9 February 2000, Official Report, column 158W, on secondments, if he will give the names, grades and job titles of the staff seconded into his Department from each organisation mentioned, stating in each case the name of the section they were seconded to and a summary of the work that they were involved with. [128248]

Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 29 June 2000]: Secondments and attachments are part of the Interchange Initiative, which promotes the exchange of people and good practice between the Civil Service and other organisations. All sectors of the economy are involved: Voluntary, Education, Health, Public and Private. Interchange is a key component of the reform agenda. The Modernising Government White Paper committed us to increasing interchange, in particular by bringing in more people on secondment and seconding more of our people out. Before an Interchange can occur, all parties must be satisfied that no conflict of interest arises.

From the organisations cited in the answer of 9 February 2000, Official Report, column 158W, individuals seconded in to the Department worked in the following divisions or areas, at the grades indicated.

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Seconding organisationGrade of post Work area in DETR
CRE Group Limited7Seconded out to EC DG Environment
Bank of Scotland7Railways, Economics and Finance
Unilever7Environment and Business
District Audit7Local Government Capital Finance
Kvaerner Construction7Construction Industry Sponsorship
OVE Arup7Construction Industry Sponsorship
Crown House Engineering7Construction Industry Sponsorship
British Gas7Construction Industry Sponsorship
Bovis Construction7Export Promotion Construction Materials
Kvaerner Cementation Foundations7Export Promotion Construction Materials
Geoffrey Reid Associates7Construction Industry Sponsorship
Marks and Spencer7Planning Directorate
Bellway Urban Renewal7Regeneration Directorate
KPMG7Regeneration Directorate
Building Research Establishment (2)7One to Export Promotion Construction Materials, one seconded out to EC DG Enterprise
IPPR7Sustainable Development Unit
ABROSHEORegeneration Directorate
Boots the Chemist Limited7Planning and Regeneration Directorates
Hyder7Regeneration Directorate
OPM7Regeneration Directorate
Institute for Fiscal Studies7Central Economics and Policy
Buro--Happold7Construction Industry Sponsorship
Christiani and Nielsen6Construction Industry Sponsorship
Development Trust Association7New Deal for Communities
Homeless Network7London Rough Sleepers Unit


Earlier references to College of North East London, D. A. Dawson and Associates, National Grid and Waters Limited were included in error.

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Mersey Partnership

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how much money has been (a) offered to and (b) taken up by the Mersey Partnership from public funds over each of the last five years; and from what sources. [129598]

Ms Beverley Hughes: Public funds offered to and administered by the Merseyside Partnership in the last five years are as follows.

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YearObjective 1Merseyside Development Corporation Contribution FundMembership contributions(1)Totals

(1) Membership contributions included local authorities, Merseyside TEC, English Partnership etc. and represent voluntary contributions as part of the partnership agreement

(2) Residual value of fund £155,000

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