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Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how funds for the New Cross departmental forum for reducing conflict in Africa will be spent. [142514]

Clare Short: A joint strategy for conflict prevention and peacekeeping is currently being developed co-operatively with the FCO and MOD, as part of the new arrangements for the Africa Conflict Prevention Joint Pool. This will come into effect in April 2001 and is intended to improve the effectiveness, impact and efficiency of HMG's contribution to peacekeeping, conflict prevention and management.

DFID currently directly supports conflict prevention programmes in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. For 2000-01 and 2001-02, the three countries in which DFID is expecting to have the highest levels of funding for conflict prevention are Sierra Leone, Uganda and Rwanda. The Conflict Fund will cover much of this expenditure, the bulk of which is likely to be in Sierra Leone.

We are promoting security in Sierra Leone by giving substantial support to the police, helping to civilianise and make accountable the country's Ministry of Defence, and helping to reintegrate ex-combatants who wish to return to civilian life.


Defence Equipment

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he has taken to ensure that BAe Systems complies with the undertakings given to him as a condition for his approval of its merger with Marconi Electronic Systems in relation to maintaining competition for sub-contracts in the procurement of defence equipment. [142742]

Dr. Howells: Under section 75J of the Fair Trading Act 1973, it is for the Director General of Fair Trading to keep under review any undertaking accepted by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in lieu of reference to the Competition Commission. Under the terms of the undertakings accepted from BAE Systems in relation to their acquisition of Marconi Electronic Systems, BAe Systems was required to appoint a Compliance Officer to oversee the company's compliance with the undertakings and to report to the Director General of Fair Trading and the Ministry of Defence on that issue.

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Whitbread Plc

Mr. Collins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will refer the proposed sale by Whitbread plc of the freehold in its public houses to the Competition Commission; [142390]

Dr. Howells: Whitbread's announcement of its intention to sell its public houses reflects a commercial decision by the company. It would not be appropriate for the Government to seek to influence that decision. In the event that the sale qualified for investigation under the Fair Trading Act 1973, it would be for the Director General of Fair Trading to advise my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether or not it should be referred to the Competition Commission.

Mobile Spectrum Auction

Mr. Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact of receipts generated by the third generation mobile spectrum auction on the broadband fixed wireless access auction. [142686]

Ms Hewitt: In their report to me the Radiocommunications Agency will be examining the factors that may have affected the outcome of the auction, including the receipts generated by the third generation mobile spectrum auction.


Mr. Ivan Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made on developing a statement of business principles for the ECGD; and if he will make a statement. [143245]

Mr. Caborn: I am pleased to announce that, following a process of public consultation and with advice from the recently expanded Export Guarantees Advisory Council, a set of Business Principles has now been developed. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House and on ECGD's website

Production of a statement of Business Principles by the end of this year was a key conclusion of the Review of ECGD's Mission and Status which I announced to the House on 25 July 2000. The statement sets out clearly and publicly ECGD's approach to fulfilling its new Mission and will guide ECGD's business practice ensuring that its activities take account of the Government's international policies. The Principles set out ECGD's objectives and policies in relation to matters such as business integrity, transparency, debt sustainability, human rights and sustainable development--which includes the concept of trade being conducted within a framework of good governance and without adverse impact on the environment of others.

ECGD will also publish information about an enhanced project impact screening process and how any sensitive cases will be handled.

ECGD will report its performance against Business Principles in a full Annual Report to be laid before Parliament next year and will keep its policies and

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procedures under continuous review, in consultation with the Export Guarantees Advisory Council--which is now operating to a reformed remit.

I am pleased that ECGD has taken this important step in implementing the agenda for change we set out in the Mission and Status Review.

Energy/Industry Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the outcome was of the Energy/Industry Council held in Brussels on 5 December; and if he will make a statement. [141625]

Dr. Howells: I represented the UK at the EU Industry/Energy Council held on 4-5 December.

The Council held a debate on innovation and industrial competitiveness. The key themes were the need to catch up with the US and Japan; building bridges between various communities (academia, education, business and scientific research); and the importance of intellectual property, especially the Community Patent. It was agreed that it was important to set both qualitative and quantitative objectives and the Commission urged the forthcoming Swedish Presidency to move from analysis to implementation. The Council adopted conclusions on innovation.

The Commission presented its latest report on the world shipbuilding market, which highlighted that the situation in the world shipbuilding market remained very difficult. The Commission stated that it was unfortunate that the bilateral consultations with South Korea had so far not reached agreement on an effective remedy on unfair South Korean pricing.

The Commission recommended that while the EU should continue to pursue a solution bilaterally, it should also investigate the Industry complaint under the Trade Barriers Regulation (TBR) with a view to possible action in the WTO. The Commission also indicated that it would propose a defensive temporary support mechanism for vessels subject to Korean unfair competition if no progress had been made with South Korea by May 2001. At the same time it confirmed its opposition to any extension of operating aid after the end of this year. The UK supported this approach.

The Council adopted conclusions stressing concern at South Korean unfair competition, urging South Korea to agree an effective remedy as a matter of urgency and calling on the Commission to complete its investigation of the Industry TBR complaint as soon as possible. The Council further instructed the Commission to report back by 1 May 2001, with a view to proposing action against South Korea in the WTO if no bilateral remedy had been agreed with South Korea by then. It also took note of the Commission approach for a temporary support mechanism, but added the safeguard that any such proposal should be under the supervision of the Commission and should not distort competition in the EU.

The Multi Annual Programme for the Enterprise and Entrepreneurship (2001-05) was adopted. This provides funding for DG Enterprise's programme of measures in support of SMEs.

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There was a brief discussion on the proposals to allow ECSC assets to transfer to the Community when the Treaty expires on 2002. The Commission also presented its latest report on the monitoring of the Article 95 ECSC Steel Aid Cases.

As part of the Commission's work on modernising competition policy, there was a short discussion on the Commission's proposals to reform the way in which Article 81 on restrictive agreements is applied. This work will continue under the Swedish Presidency.

The centre-piece of the Energy Council was the proposal for a directive on the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market (the "Renewables Directive") where Ministers reached political agreement on a draft text which will now be subject to the co-decision process with the European Parliament. The draft directive sets out indicative targets for the amount of electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2010. The target for the UK is 10 per cent., which is in line with our domestic target. Discussion at the Council focused mostly on the targets proposed for some other member states and the need to recognise that the achievement of targets will depend on an appropriate state aid regime. Article 175(1) was accepted as the legal base. I regard the political agreement reached at the Council as an important first step which will encourage member states to promote domestic renewables schemes actively and will contribute towards meeting the EU's Kyoto targets.

The Council also discussed the Commission's oil supply communication where there was general agreement on the need for greater market transparency and for dialogue between consumer and producer countries. There was support for the International Energy Agency to carry this work forward for the consumer countries. The UK rejected the notion of market management as a solution to price volatility and called for more gas to gas competition and for a break in the link between gas and oil prices.

The Commission gave a report on its plans to bring forward new proposals for the Stockholm Council to accelerate opening of the internal markets for electricity and gas. These will focus on three areas: full market opening with the target of giving all consumers freedom to choose their supplier; transparent and non- discriminatory access to networks for all suppliers; and the full separation of gas and electricity distribution from the supply side. The Commission also outlined proposals to put the work of the Florence and Madrid processes on a more regularised basis with proper political direction. The UK urged the Commission to press on with proposals to accelerate market opening as quickly as possible, including the development of cross-border charging arrangements, and supported the plans to exert more political control over the Florence and Madrid processes.

In addition the Commission presented its Green Paper on Security of Supply, emphasising that it was meant to be the first stage on a journey towards a new policy framework for energy. At this stage the Council simply took note. The Council also noted reports on Euro-Med cooperation, the energy charter treaty, COP6 and synergy. Conclusions on the energy efficiency action plan were agreed without discussion.

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