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Export Licences

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his target is for processing Standard Individual Export Licence applications; and how actual performance compared to these targets in the last eight quarterly periods for which figures are available. [149634]

Dr. Howells: The Government's aim is to provide a substantive response to standard individual export licence applications (SIELs) within 20 working days. Our overall target is to achieve this in 70 per cent. of all cases, excluding applications concerning Iran or Iraq, or applications for licences to export goods which are subject to control solely because of UN sanctions.

In December 2000, 47.7 per cent. of SIELs were processed within this target. For figures from January to November 2000, I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Clwyd (Mr. Ruane) on 9 January 2001, Official Report, columns 496-97W. Figures were not collected on a quarterly basis before 1 January 2000. The performance for the whole of 1999 can be found in the Government's annual report on strategic export controls.


Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will examine the anti-competition implications of the decision of Corus not to sell its Llanwern plant to a competitor. [149358]

Mr. Byers: Responsibility for investigating any possible breach of competition law by Corus would be a matter for the competition authorities, the European Commission and the Director General of Fair Trading.

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I have drawn their attention to my hon. Friend's question.

Research Councils

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the quinquennial review of the six grant-awarding research councils will take place; and what the terms of reference for the review will be. [150466]

Mr. Byers: I am today launching the quinquennial review of the grant-awarding research councils.

Reviews of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) are a key part of our programme to modernise government. The Government are committed to achieving better public services that are of higher quality and are more responsive to the needs of the people who use them. Regular NDPB reviews are an important element in ensuring that we have in place the right structures to deliver the Government's agenda effectively and to provide a strong focus on improving future performance.

The purpose of the six grant-awarding councils is to deliver Government policy for publicly funded research and postgraduate training. It would be impossible to conduct a fundamental review independently from that policy. For this reason, although quinquennial review of the six councils was due in 1999, it has been appropriate to postpone their quinquennial review until the outcome of the relevant policy reviews had been completed, so that the role of the councils could be considered in that context. Together, the White Papers on Science and Innovation ("Excellence and Opportunity"; Cmd 4814) and the Knowledge Economy ("Opportunity for All in a World of Change"; Cm 2250) now provide the context for the review.

The terms of reference for the review of the research councils are:

The review of councils will be undertaken in two stages:

The review will consider, in particular, how the councils can best fulfil their strategic role in identifying the key areas for future investment in research that will offer the best opportunities for science, social development, industrial application and economic growth.

The review will be conducted in accordance with the current Cabinet Office guidance (published on 31 January 2000) and will include consultation, either in person or in writing, with members of council, staff of the executive

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and the councils' customers and key stakeholders. It is expected that a number of working groups will be established to address key issues in detail in the second stage.

The review team will be directed by a review board, which is chaired by the Director General of the Research Councils, Dr. John Taylor, and with a membership which will include key representatives of both industry and academia drawn from the stakeholder communities. The review board will ensure that Ministers, the Treasury, the Cabinet Office, and the staff and customers of the councils are kept informed of the progress of the review and will facilitate the gathering of information for the review team and their communication with staff and other stakeholders.

The review team will be supported by officials in the Office of Science and Technology, with specialist advice as appropriate. The aim will be to complete the review within approximately six months, as recommended in the Cabinet Office guidance.


Departmental Surveys

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list for (a) 1992-93, (b) 1993-94, (c) 1994-95, (d) 1995-96, (e) 1996-97, (f) 1997-98, (g) 1998-99, (h) 1999-2000 and (i) 2000-01, (I) his Department's total spending on quantitative and qualitative surveys of policy issues by focus groups, opinion polling, task forces or other means and (II) the cost of each individual project. [146595]

Mr. Wilson: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not collect separate data on expenditure on the categories listed. It would involve disproportionate expense to retrieve this information from various sources and itemise the individual projects.


Mr. Galloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his counterparts in the Arab world about the continuation of sanctions on Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [149745]

Mr. Wilson: We maintain regular dialogue with the Governments of the Arab world on Iraq. I recently had the opportunity to discuss this matter with the Foreign Minister of Egypt.


Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received from the UN Interim Administrator for Kosovo regarding the security situation in Kosovo and Southern Serbia. [149775]

Mr. Vaz: The new special representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) visited London shortly before taking up his post, and held discussions with me and with senior officials. Staff of the British Office in Pristina are in close touch with him, and we seek actively to support

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him in his important work. This mandate does not extend to Southern Serbia outside Kosovo, but we receive regular reports on the situation there from various sources.

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the security situation in (a) Kosovo and (b) Presevo Valley. [149774]

Mr. Vaz: UNMIK and KFOR are working actively to improve public order and counter extremist activity in Kosovo. Although isolated violent incidents continue to occur, most of the province is calm. There have been a number of violent demonstrations recently in Mitrovica, to which KFOR and UNMIK have responded. British troops, as part of the KFOR reserve, were temporarily deployed there. We fully support UNMIK's efforts to promote greater inter-communal peace in the town.

We remain concerned about the risk of serious violence in the Presevo Valley area of Serbia, and commend the FRY authorities for the restraint they have so far shown. We welcome the recent announcement by Belgrade of proposals to resolve the conflict, and the fact that some representatives of the ethnic Albanian armed groups also seem prepared to negotiate. The United Kingdom, with our partners and allies, will want to do whatever we can to support a peaceful outcome.

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the UN Interim Administrators for Kosovo regarding the current violence by military demonstrators against NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo. [149776]

Mr. Vaz: We have been in regular contact with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) about the demonstrations against KFOR peacekeepers in Mitrovica. We condemn all acts of violence against KFOR. We support UNMIK's attempts to build confidence and ethnic tolerance in the town.

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