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Mineworkers' Compensation Scheme

Mr. Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many bereavement awards have been granted to date to the widows of former miners under the mineworkers' compensation scheme; [142818]

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Mrs. Liddell: As at 3 December the Department had paid some 4,400 Bereavement Awards and Loss of Society Awards (the equivalent in Scotland), totalling nearly £37 million, to widows of former miners suffering from respiratory diseases. Individual awards ranged from £3,591 to £13,490, with the average award being £8,492 (these vary because of the different statutory awards, dependent on the date of death, and accumulated interest).

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will waive the additional Government- sponsored health test from those former miners who are assessed by the Benefits Agency as suffering from chronic bronchitis and emphysema. [142634]

Mrs. Liddell: The Department is legally obliged to ensure that compensation is properly paid out in accordance with the High Court ruling on the conditions for which British Coal were found liable. An examination has been made of the possibility of using the DSS medical; regrettably, they are not sufficiently detailed to allow an accurate assessment of the degree of injury for which compensation is to be paid and take no account of exposure to dust or of smoking or the progression of disability over time, which are required by the court to enable the accurate assessment of special damages.

Type 45 Destroyer

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment his Department has made of the industrial implications of the Ministry of Defence moving from a competitive to a non-competitive procurement strategy for the Type 45 Destroyer programme. [142744]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 14 December 2000]: I am advised by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence that his Ministry has not moved from a competitive to a non-competitive procurement strategy for the Type 45 Destroyer programme. I have therefore not undertaken any such assessment.

START

Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on START; and what progress has been made since May 1997. [R] [142880]

Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 15 December 2000]: START, built and operated by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority at Culham in Oxfordshire from 1991, was a pioneering innovation in the research into the generation of electricity by means of nuclear fusion. START was the world's first working spherical device (the 'spherical tokamak') in which magnetic fields are used to confine the very high temperature plasmas required for energy release from fusion.

There were two important achievements in the period from May 1997. First, a world record for the ratio of plasma pressure to magnetic pressure was demonstrated, three times greater than the record from less compact tokamaks. Secondly, it was demonstrated that the spherical tokamak plasma could easily be made to enter a stable, improved mode of operation, in which energy leakage from the plasma is reduced.

START ceased operations on 31 March 1998. Since then its larger successor MAST ("MegaAmpere Spherical Tokamak") has been built at Culham and is confirming

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the great promise of START. Following the success of START, spherical tokamaks have been built in the US, the Russian Federation, Japan and Brazil.

I have asked UKAEA to send the hon. Member further information on START and MAST and copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Universal Banking Services

Sir Peter Emery: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made on plans for a universal bank for the Post Office. [142694]

Mr. Byers: The Post Office and the banks are working together to develop the concept of universal banking services.

Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to cap the number of people who may hold a basic bank account with the universal banking services. [142959]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 15 December 2000]: There are no plans to cap the number of people who may hold a basic bank account.

Royal Mail

Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he has taken to resolve the dispute between the Royal Mail and trade unions affecting Royal Mail services in London NW1. [142956]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 15 December 2000]: Industrial relations at Royal Mail are a matter for the Post Office and the trade unions.

Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on Royal Mail postal deliveries in London NW1. [142953]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 15 December 2000]: Royal Mail postal deliveries in London NW1 and nationally are an operational matter for the Post Office.

Sub-post Offices

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry under what powers he plans to instruct the Post Office to maintain the rural network of sub-post offices. [142881]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 15 December 2000]: My hon. Friend the Minister for Competitiveness placed a formal requirement on the Post Office to maintain the rural network and to prevent any avoidable closures of rural post offices in a letter dated 17 November to the Chief Executive.

CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT

Digital Television

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what plans he has to set a date beyond which non-digital television sets cannot be sold; [141631]

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Janet Anderson: Around 25,000 integrated digital television sets were sold in the last 12 months. Nearly all of the other new television sets sold are also able to receive digital television transmissions by using a set-top box. Some cheaper sets may not have the necessary socket, though we have no information about the exact number. We are currently negotiating a European directive stipulating that all the television sets sold in Europe should have at least one open interface socket permitting the connection of a digital receiver.

A date beyond which non-digital television sets cannot be sold can be set only with the agreement of the European Commission. Such a measure is currently being considered by the European Commission.

Wembley Stadium

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement about the future of Wembley Stadium. [142591]

Mr. Chris Smith [holding answer 14 December 2000]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Ainsworth) on 15 December 2000, Official Report, column 294W.

Millennium Dome

25. Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement on the sale of the Millennium Dome. [141898]

Janet Anderson [holding answer 11 December 2000]: On 20 November, the Government announced that Legacy plc had been awarded preferred bidder status. Legacy plc confirmed that they will resolve all outstanding contractual issues within an agreed timetable. Negotiations continue, and if all goes well the Government expect to exchange contracts during February. Progress will be reviewed regularly.

WALES

Urban II Initiative

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what assessment he has made of the extent to which the Urban II initiative bid for Wales will be affected by the European Commission's rejection of the United Kingdom's overall submission. [143164]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The Commission has not rejected the United Kingdom's proposals. Discussions are continuing about the total number of programmes which can proceed. However, I am confident that this will not affect the position of the West Wrexham bid.

Regional Development Agencies

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if the strategy funds for Regional Development Agencies, announced in the pre-Budget Statement, also apply to the Welsh Development Agency. [142584]

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Mr. Paul Murphy: The pre-Budget Report announcement concerned English Regional Development Agencies, and gave them more budgetary flexibility, and a new Strategic Programme, allowing Regional Development Agencies to switch resources into the new Strategic Programme for innovative schemes that meet their economic and other strategic aims.

The Spending Review provided increased resources for Regional Development Agencies and Wales received Barnett consequential of those increases in the usual way. It is for the Assembly to determine how to allocate its resources among its programmes according to its own priorities, and its recent budget announcements set out detailed plans, including increased funding, for the WDA for the next three years.


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