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Coal Authority

Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the Coal Authority's report and accounts for 1999-2000 will be laid before Parliament. [133736]

Mrs. Liddell: I have today laid a copy of the report before Parliament.


Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will reconcile his answers of 17 July 2000, Official Report, column 27W, Ref. 130308 and 130309/10, concerning regional selective assistance for companies manufacturing cars, with particular reference to the two lists of companies. [133455]

Mr. Byers: The answer to Ref. 130308 concerned companies which received payments of grant since May 1998.

The answer to Ref. 130309/10 concerned offers made since May 1997.

Two of the companies, Vauxhall and Ford, shown in the list of those receiving payments since May 1998, had offers made before May 1997. They are therefore excluded from the list of offers made since May 1997.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he has European Commission Competition Directorate approval to (a) subsidise the coal industry and (b) grant a subsidy to Toyoda. [133066]

Mr. Byers: I am seeking approval from the European Commission to a subsidy scheme to help the UK coal industry.

Toyoda Gosei Company Ltd.--part of the Toyota Group of companies--received an offer of £1.7 million Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) in May 1999. Under the terms of the Motor Vehicle Framework for State Aid, no prior EU approval was required.


Ms Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if there are trade sanctions against Iran. [133734]

Dr. Howells: There are no United Nations trade sanctions against Iran. A UK national arms embargo was imposed on 1 March 1993. It covers all goods and technology on the Military List as well as items entered in Group 0 in Annex 1 of the European Council Decision

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94/942/CFSP on the export of dual-use goods, as amended. An amendment was announced on 28 January 1998 to clarify that licences would not be approved for any equipment where there was knowledge or reason to suspect that it would go to a military end-user or be used for military purposes. The exception is equipment which would not normally require an export licence but is deemed licensable under the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) end-use control and where WMD concerns are not subsequently substantiated.

All applications for export licences to Iran are considered by an interdepartmental committee of advisers and representatives from the DTI, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Ministry of Defence. This committee meets once a month and makes recommendations on each application which are subsequently submitted to Ministers in the three Departments for approval. This procedure reflects the concerns that the Government has about exports to Iran and ensures that all licensing decisions are consistent with our policy.

Oil and Gas Licensing

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what has been the outcome of the 9 Landward Round of Oil and Gas Licensing. [133737]

Mrs. Liddell: I am pleased to announce the award of 37 licences to 21 companies for onshore oil and gas exploration over 123 blocks. Licensees will now need to obtain any necessary consents from local planning authorities, who will take account of any environmental concerns, and to agree access terms with landowners before carrying out any on-site activities on these licences.

The UK's onshore oil and gas industry has a strong future, as shown by the high level of interest in this round. The areas covered by the awards range from Scotland to southern England, and include acreage never previously considered for oil and gas exploration. It is encouraging to see licences going to new applicants from both the UK and overseas.

Over 60 blocks are for mines gas and coalbed methane, offering the potential for new jobs in former mining communities. This gas will now contribute to the UK's energy supply rather than being wasted.

Applications involving five companies are still being considered and I will make a further announcement when any outstanding issues have been resolved.

Competition Commission

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in what way Welsh interests are represented on the Competition Commission; and by whom. [133266]

Dr. Howells: The Competition Commission is not set up to represent different geographical areas. Its members are chosen on merit and experience.

Institute of Arable Crops Research

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what financial assistance his Department has provided through the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to the Long Ashton Research

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Station of the Institute of Arable Crops Research since 1997; and what this financial assistance is intended for. [132854]

Ms Hewitt: The main form of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funding support to the Long Ashton Research Station (LARS) is via the Competitive Strategic Grant, which provides funding for basic and strategic research programmes that map onto BBSRC's priorities and underpins LARS's mission. Unlike university grants, for which the Higher Education Funding Councils provide the infrastructure element of "dual funding", the Competitive Strategic Grant and capital funding meets the full costs of the various programmes. BBSRC has also provided equipment and minor works grants. In addition, BBSRC has awarded funds to LARS for research projects which LARS scientists have won in competition with other scientists from the bioscience community.

The table shows the funding of the Long Ashton Research Station from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council since 1997:


Competitive Strategic Grant3,4153,4353,065
Minor Works708555
Research Grants675980875
Total BBSRC Funding4,3354,6804,175

PFI Contracts

Mr. Alan Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in how many of his Department's PFI contracts KPMG has been an adviser. [132859]

Dr. Howells: KPMG was an adviser in one PFI/PPP contract involving the Department and its agencies.

Gas-fired Power Station, Anglesey

Mrs. Betty Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he will announce his decision on Burlington Resources (Irish Sea) Ltd.'s proposal to build a gas-fired power station at Rhosgoch on the Isle of Anglesey. [133738]

Mrs. Liddell: The Government have received new information on the proposal to build a new 560 MW gas-fired power station at Rhosgoch, Anglesey. This was refused approval on 9 November 1999 on energy policy grounds and a direction under section 14(3) of the Energy Act 1976 to that effect was issued. However, as in all such cases, the Government indicated that they would be willing to reconsider their decision should new information come to their attention that there had been a significant change in circumstances.

The Government have now received new information which warrants reconsideration of the proposal, not least on local and environmental grounds. After re-evaluating the further information, the Government have concluded that the proposal should not be halted on energy policy grounds and that the direction of 9 November 1999 should be revoked.

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However, local planning and other clearances are still required under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989.

I have placed copies of the Press Notice and the decision letter in the Library of the House.

Data Protection

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) which Minister in his Department has the lead responsibility for data protection in relation to websites; and if he will make a statement; [133053]

Ms Hewitt: My Department has no responsibility for the protection of data held at or accessible through websites. My Department has no special powers to mount prosecutions under the Data Protection Act. We have received no representation about prosecutions of electricity generating companies under that Act, but are aware of the public interest in the recent security breach at the website of the supply business of PowerGen. While the standards of security of websites are not regulated, my Department takes seriously its responsibility for promoting good information security to business. This is one of the vital factors in ensuring confidence in e-business. My officials have therefore had discussions with the company to understand the circumstances that led to the security breach, how the company solved the technical issues and how the business community as a whole might learn from their experience. I understand that the company resolved the vulnerability quickly and are making great efforts to learn how their management controls allowed it to happen. They intend to make public the results of their inquiries. Furthermore, we are exploring with the company how best we might disseminate the lessons learnt to improve the performance of all those UK companies who are rising to the challenge of working on-line.

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