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Performance and Innovation Unit

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the current work programme of the Performance and Innovation Unit including (a) the titles of all reports in preparation and their expected publication dates and (b) any further subjects due to be examined by the unit during the period 2000 to 2002. [101180]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 6 December 1999]: The Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) is currently undertaking the following studies:

    The role of central Government at the regional and local level.

    Objectives for rural economies.

    Active ageing.

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    The pursuit and seizure of criminal assets.

    The Post Office network.

    Social, health, environmental and trade objectives on the global stage.

    Strategic options for the electronic delivery of Government services.

The PIU aims to publish reports from the first five projects over the next two months. Decisions arising from the further projects will be made public in due course.

Further PIU projects have not been decided.

Institute of Public Policy Research

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the research work carried out or being carried out since 1 May 1997 on behalf of the Government by the Institute of Public Policy Research. [101730]

The Prime Minister: The information requested is not held centrally. However, it is a requirement that all such contracts are let in accordance with the Treasury procurement guidelines.

Ministerial Meetings

Mr. David Davis: To ask the Prime Minister what arrangements he has put in place for the taking and keeping of minutes of meetings with people outside his Office. [102368]

The Prime Minister: Decisions on the format of records of meetings normally depend on the nature of the discussion.

Policy Unit

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the role and responsibilities of Geoffrey Norris in his Office's Policy Unit. [102480]

The Prime Minister: Mr. Norris has responsibility for Trade and Industry, and Regional and Planning Policy.

State Visits

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister for what reasons governors general of Commonwealth states of which Her Majesty the Queen is Head of State are not invited to make State Visits to the United Kingdom. [101406]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 13 December 1999]: Inward State Visits are made only by foreign and commonwealth Heads of State. It would not be appropriate for the Queen's representative in one of Her Majesty's other Realms to pay a State Visit to the United Kingdom.


Direct Access Government Internet Service

Mr. Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he intends to upgrade the Direct Access Government Internet Service which provides business with a one-stop shop for regulatory guidance and forms. [102967]

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Ms Hewitt: I am pleased to announce that an improved version of the service is being launched today. As well as providing business with easier access to regulatory information they will be able to register which areas of regulation they are interested in and receive e-mailed links to the latest document releases on a daily basis. The new service can be accessed at and will be incorporated as part of the Small Business Service from next April.


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made by his Department towards a binding commitment on tariff-free and quota- free access for exports from the poorest 48 countries in the world. [102301]

Mr. Caborn: Under the UK Presidency of the European Union in 1998, the EU agreed to provide duty free access for essentially all products from the Least Developed Countries by 2005. We will be pressing the EU to fulfil this commitment as soon as possible. More generally, we will continue to call for zero tariffs to be applied to all goods from the Least Developed Countries, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister promised in his speech at Mansion House on 22 November.

In addition, and notwithstanding the fact that the WTO Seattle Ministerial conference was suspended without agreement between member Governments on a new multilateral market access initiative for the Least Developed Countries, we will continue to urge other developed countries to match the EU's commitment.


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the European Commission's response to the proposal for state aid to Rover; and if a revised proposal is being considered. [102204]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 13 December 1999]: The UK officially notified its intention to provide aid for Longbridge at the end of August 1999. A number of questions were raised by the European Commission and these questions have been fully answered. We now anticipate that the Commission may open an Article 88(2) procedure on this case. An announcement is expected shortly. Such a procedure is normal practice and allows the European Commission to consider the views of third parties. We remain hopeful of a positive outcome to the investigation.

We are not considering a revised proposal.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is his latest estimate of the cost of the proposed state aid to Rover. [102205]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 13 December 1999]: The offer of aid to Rover/BMW remains the same as that announced by the Secretary of State on 23 June 1999: a support package of £152 million, made up of £129 million Regional Selective Assistance (RSA), with the balance being made up by the local partners. The offer remains subject to clearance by the European Union.

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Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what export credit guarantees were made in respect of exports to Ghana in each of the last five years; how many of the guarantees have now lapsed; and how many payments have been made by the ECGD in respect of these guarantees. [101971]

Mr. Caborn [holding answer 9 December 1999]: The number and value of ECGD guarantees made in respect of exports to Ghana in each of the last five years are detailed in the following table along with the payments made by ECGD in respect of these guarantees:

YearNumber of guarantees issuedValue of guarantees £ millionPayments made in each year £ million

(3) To 30 November

Of the total value of claims paid of £6.23 million, £3.84 remains outstanding. Five of these guarantees have now lapsed.

Horizon Project

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will place in the Library the documentation on the (a) business objectives, (b) rollout timetable, (c) costs and (d) partners of the Horizon project; and if the costs of implementation will be met by Her Majesty's Treasury or the Post Office. [101379]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The information requested is as follows.

Internal Market Council

Mr. Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the outcome of the Internal Market Council held in Brussels on 7 December; and if he will make a statement. [102348]

Mrs. Liddell: I represented the UK at the Internal Market Council in Brussels on 7 December.

There were discussions on the new Single Market Strategy, the Joint Presidency Work Programme and the Commission's Single Market Scoreboard. There was

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general support from the Council, although some member states, including the UK, were unable to endorse all the Target Actions in the Single Market Strategy. The Council agreed Conclusions on Distance Marketing of Financial Services and on the Community Customs Code.

The Council reached political agreement on Electronic Commerce (with Belgium abstaining). The Directive sets out a legal framework for electronic commerce in the internal market, based on the principle that the legislation of the service provider's home state applies. The Council reached unanimous political agreement on amendments to a number of directives concerning mutual recognition of qualifications, and political agreement on three food Directives harmonising labelling and compositional requirements for sugar, preserved milk and fruit juice (sugar agreed by unanimity, milk by qualified majority with Belgium against, and fruit juices by qualified majority with Belgium against and Netherlands abstaining).

The UK reported in the context of a discussion on the Takeovers Directive that talks with Spain on a general settlement of the issue of communications between Gibraltar competent authorities and counterparts in other member states were making progress.

The Commission reported progress on public procurement, Simpler Legislation in the Internal Market (SLIM) and exhaustion of trademark rights. The Council took note of reports on the Copyright Directive, the EU Data Protection Directive, the review of chemical policy and the follow-up to the Council Resolution on standardisation.

There was no decision on the proposed Directive on Artists' Resale Rights; although a large majority supported the Presidency proposal there was a willingness to consider alternative solutions. The Presidency, the Commission and most member states are now pressing for agreement before the end of the year.

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