Previous Section Index Home Page

Radio Spectrum

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much the police, other emergency services, and the armed forces are projected to pay annually for access to the radio spectrum following the recent sale of the spectrum; and if he will make a statement. [131889]

Ms Hewitt: The police and other emergency services are expected to pay £2.05 million this year and the military are expected to pay £22.7 million this year for use of the radio spectrum.

These sums are equated to the payments made by commercial users under Section 1 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1998. They are not connected to sums paid for spectrum auctioned under Section 3 of the Act.

University Research

Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been awarded by the Joint Infrastructure Fund since its establishment to each university in respect of (a) medical and (b) non-medial research. [131721]

Ms Hewitt: The Joint Infrastructure Fund (JIF) to date has made 109 awards worth £600 million to 39 universities.

28 Jul 2000 : Column: 1089W

Estimates of the biomedical and non-medical awards for the successful universities for Round 1 are listed in the table. Rounds 2 and 3 awards are subject to negotiation with successful applicants and further details will be announced later this year.

Universities awarded funding (Round 1)
£ million

Round 1BiomedicalNon-medical
Bangor (University of Wales)2.8--2.8
Imperial College11.33.38.0
Queen Mary and Westfield College24.8--24.8
Queen's Belfast0.40.4--
SUERC (Glasgow)3.9--3.9

Near Earth Objects

Mr. Opik: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the report on the threat posed by near earth objects, currently being prepared by the Near Earth Object Task Force, will be published; and if he will make a statement. [132086]

Ms Hewitt: The Task Force has not yet formally submitted its report to my noble Friend the Minister for Science. I expect that it will do so shortly. My noble Friend will write to the hon. Member when the report is published. Parliament will be informed once he has had the opportunity to consider the recommendations.

Regional Selective Assistance

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when, and for what purposes, Rover was recently granted regional selective assistance; and whether that was separate from the £129 million grant. [131824]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 21 July 2000]: To support the development of an all new leading-edge engine production facility to be built on a brownfield site at Harms Hall in the West Midlands.

This was separate from the £129 million offer in 1999.

Early Retirement

Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the practice of employers in respect of compulsory early retirement. [132430]

Mr. Alan Johnson: Retirement ages are a matter for negotiation and agreement between employers and employees (or their representatives). It is for employers to decide whether dismissal in advance of normal retirement

28 Jul 2000 : Column: 1090W

age may be necessary in any particular case. Subject to the necessary qualifying service, employees who believe they have been dismissed unfairly can complain to an employment tribunal.

Employment Contracts

Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will amend the law to prevent private sector companies from cutting pay and downgrading the working conditions of staff through the termination of existing contracts of employment coupled with an offer of re-employment on less favourable terms with particular reference to employees transferred from the public to the private sector. [132849]

Mr. Alan Johnson: It is unlawful for employers to dismiss employees in connection with a transfer within the meaning of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 (TUPE), unless the reason for doing so is an economic, technical or organisational reason entailing changes in the workforce. It is similarly unlawful for employers to change employees' terms and conditions of employment in connection with a TUPE transfer. The Government have made clear in the Cabinet Office Statement of Practice "Staff Transfers in the Public Sector" its policy that all transfers from the public sector to the private should be conducted on the basis that TUPE applies unless there are genuinely exceptional reasons for it not to do so.

Arms Exports

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he has taken to improve the process of risk assessment for arms exports at the licensing stage; what further steps are being considered; and if he will make a statement. [133109]

Dr. Howells: The Government have taken a number of steps to strengthen the process of risk assessment at the licensing stage and continue to consider ways of further improving procedures in this area. We rigorously assess export licence applications to determine the risk of the proposed export being misused in contravention of our national export licensing criteria and those in the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, including for internal repression or international aggression, or through diversion or re-export to undesirable end-users.

The DTI's Export Control Organisation (ECO) introduced a new computerised database in 1999 which has increased consistency in the assessment of licence applications and reduces the risk of errors. Further enhancements to this system are planned over the next two years. ECO has also increased the number of senior managers with oversight of the licensing process, and applications to export goods to destinations where there may be risk of diversion are considered with particular care. Applications are refused if it is assessed that an unacceptable risk of diversion exists.

ECO seeks advice on applications from other departments with an interest as determined by those departments in line with their policy responsibilities. DTI works in partnership with those departments to improve the overall effectiveness of the licensing process.

28 Jul 2000 : Column: 1091W

We systematically take into account reliable information from a variety of sources, including reporting from diplomatic posts, international organisations and Non- Governmental Organisations. We have taken a number of steps to increase the amount of such information available to us, for example by instructing overseas posts to report on any misuse of UK-supplied defence equipment and by promoting exchange on destinations and end-users of concern in relevant international fora.

All applications for Standard Individual Export Licences must be accompanied by appropriate end-user undertakings or, if the consignee is a Government body, a copy of the official purchase or relevant part of the contract. As noted in the 1999 Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls, we ask overseas posts to conduct checks to confirm the veracity of end-user information. ECO is also actively considering the possibility of introducing a standard model format for the presentation of end-user undertakings, and new guidance material for completion of such assurances, which should further enhance the effectiveness of our licensing process.


Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which studies his Department has (a) commissioned, (b) reviewed and (c) undertaken that examine the cost to (i) UK businesses and (ii) euro zone business of preparing for introduction of the euro; and if he will make a statement. [132900]

Mrs. Liddell: HM Treasury is responsible for this subject. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Economic Secretary on 26 July 2000, Official Report, column 695W.

Permanent Secretary (Official Visits)

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the visits outside Britain made by his Department's Permanent Secretary on official business since 1 January 1999, indicating the date and purpose of the visit in each case. [133274]

Mr. Byers: The Permanent Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry has made one official overseas visit since 1 January 1999, to Paris. The visit took place on 21-22 October 1999, to attend the European Investment Bank Forum 1999 on "Euro Market: Changes Ahead".

Next Section Index Home Page