Previous Section Index Home Page

Food Standards

Ms Drown: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will publish the guidance he has given to the Food Standards Agency regarding the impact on its work of the World Trade Organisation Seattle round; [101650]

Mr. Caborn: The Food Standards Agency will be formally established in spring 2000. It will be fully consulted on any changes which may be proposed to the WTO SPS Agreement (which sets out rules for trade measures to protect food safety, animal and plant health), or other WTO agreements which may have a bearing on its responsibilities.


Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many parking fines were incurred by Parcelforce vehicles in (a) 1995, (b) 1996, (c) 1997 and (d) 1998; and how many Parcelforce vehicles there are currently. [101680]

14 Dec 1999 : Column: 116W

Mr. Alan Johnson: Parcelforce does not keep records of parking fines centrally, and this information could not be obtained without disproportionate cost.

The Road Traffic Act Regulation 1984 gives local authorities the power to make traffic regulation orders to restrict parking. The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions issue guidance to local authorities to give exemptions to the Post Office when carrying out statutory duties using licensed Royal Mail liveried vehicles engaged in the collection and delivery of letters in accordance with the statutory duty of the Post Office for the conveyance of letters. There is no similar guidance for Parcelforce vehicles.

Parking fines are being incurred by Parcelforce drivers while on delivery as a result of vehicles which are parked illegally.

Parcelforce Worldwide currently operates a total fleet of around 7,000 operational vehicles, the main types are:

QuantityVehicle type
500Articulated motive units
3,00035 tonne vans
1,00075 tonne trucks
120Car derived vans

Post Office Network

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact of significant numbers of child benefit claimants switching from cash to direct bank account payments on the rural post office network; and if he will make a statement. [101328]

Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what estimate he has made of the impact on (a) post office incomes and (b) the viability of post offices of paying social security benefits directly into claimants' bank accounts; and if he will make a statement; [101373]

Mr. Alan Johnson: There will be no change before 2003 to existing methods of paying social security benefits, under which recipients can choose between payment by order book at a post office and payment direct to a bank account using the automated credit transfer system (ACT). Some 54 per cent. of new child benefit recipients and 47 per cent. of new pensioners currently choose to have their benefits/pensions paid by ACT. The Horizon counters automation project will equip all post offices with a modern, on-line IT platform by 2001, and will enable the Post Office to extend its existing arrangements with the high street banks under which customers of those banks--including benefit recipients--can access their accounts at post offices. This project, to which the Government have made a significant financial contribution, represents a major investment in the future of the post office network to which the Government

14 Dec 1999 : Column: 117W

remain fully committed. It will ensure that all benefit recipients who wish to do so will be able to access their benefits in cash at post offices. It will also offer other bank customers the benefits of wider availability of banking services, especially in rural areas.

For the longer-term future, the Prime Minister has asked the Performance and Innovation Unit within the Cabinet Office to undertake a study of the contribution which post offices make to their local communities, and how the network can best contribute to Government objectives.

Concessionary Fuel

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the cost per tonne of fuel delivered of the retired miners' concessionary fuel scheme. [102394]

Mrs. Liddell: The cost per tonne of fuel delivered under the retired miners' concessionary fuel scheme varies considerably between different types of fuel and different parts of the country. The weighted average cost per tonne of fuel delivered between April 1999 and November 1999, including VAT at 5 per cent., was £160.00.

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the (a) total cost of the retired miners' concessionary fuel scheme and (b) the total number of retired miners eligible for it, in the last quarter for which figures are available. [102400]

Mrs. Liddell: British Coal's former employees and their dependants are eligible to benefits under the retired miners' concessionary fuel scheme in two forms, solid fuel and cash in lieu of solid fuel. In the three months September to November 1999 the total cost of the scheme was:

(a)£ million
Cash in lieu5.4

The number of beneficiaries eligible was:

Cash in lieu78,701

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the level of entitlement to retired miners concessionary fuel for each of the client groups entitled to receive it. [102402]

Mrs. Liddell: The level of entitlement is set out in Fuel Agreements which were negotiated between British Coal (BC) and the various mining unions. The entitlements can be taken in either solid fuel or cash in lieu. The amount of solid fuel a former employee of BC, or their dependant, can receive each year varies according to the types of solid fuel, the householder status, age and location of the beneficiary.

14 Dec 1999 : Column: 118W

Typical entitlements for former industrial and clerical workers who are full householders are in the following ranges:

Manufactures smokeless fuels3,350-4,800

The cash-in-lieu rates for these former grades is either £267 or £360 a year.


Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has for the involvement of private finance in the Export Credits Guarantee Department. [102236]

Mr. Caborn: The Review of the Mission and Status of ECGD, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced in the House on 27 July 1999, Official Report, columns 305-06W, is still in progress and it is important not to pre-judge the outcome. Once Ministers have decided what ECGD's future functions and direction should be, we will start to consider how ECGD's services can best be delivered and whether any change in its status would be required. This will include an assessment of whether all, or any part, of ECGD's operations should be privatised or contracted out. ECGD does, of course, already work closely with the private sector by issuing guarantees to banks providing finance to UK exporters.

Clothing Industry

Mr. Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people were employed in Britain's clothing industry (a) in each of the past 20 years, (b) in June 1997 and (c) at the most recent date for which figures are available. [102425]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 13 December 1999]: The information is available in the table.

Great Britain employee jobs--annual (June of each year)

SIC(92)18 Wearing apparel


1. Rounded to thousands

2. Not seasonally adjusted

14 Dec 1999 : Column: 119W

Monthly data Month and yearSIC(92)18 Wearing apparel
June 1997138.3
September 1999104.3


Office for National Statistics

Next Section Index Home Page