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Mr. Bradshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action the Department of Trade and Industry took in relation to an application for discovery in the Astra case at the High Court on 28 November 1997; what the costs of the application were to the Department's funds; and if he will make a statement. [160140]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 3 May 2001]: The Department complied with all orders made by the court in the disqualification proceedings in the case of Astra Holdings Plc heard on 28 November 1997.

It is not possible to determine the cost of individual applications in the proceedings without disproportionate cost.

Mr. Moulsdale

Mr. Bradshaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he received a request for a copy of the letter relating to Mr. Moulsdale; and what was his response. [160139]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 3 May 2001]: I am not aware of "the letter relating to Mr. Moulsdale" to which my hon. Friend refers.

Cosmetic Testing

Mr. Cawsey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on (a) his policy on a EU ban on cosmetics tested on animals and (b) the impact of this policy on the UK-wide ban on cosmetics tested on animals; and if he will make a statement. [160361]

Dr. Howells: The Government are seriously committed to ensuring the protection of animal welfare. Currently the UK has a voluntary ban on animal tests for cosmetic products and ingredients. However, we believe that securing an EU ban on testing cosmetic products and ingredients on animals, as proposed in the Council's draft 7th Amendment to the Cosmetics Directive, is an important step to achieving real improvements in animal welfare across the whole of the European Community.


Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the impact of prohibitions in below-cost selling, with special reference to the recent report of the Competition Commission on the trading restrictions of supermarkets. [160099]

8 May 2001 : Column: 68W

Dr. Howells: The Competition Commission made an adverse finding in relation to persistent selling below cost of certain frequently purchased goods. However, they concluded that a prohibition of the practice would itself have adverse effects, for example consumers might pay more for their shopping basket overall, and that the degree of intervention and monitoring required by a prohibition would be disproportionate to the problem. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry accepted the recommendation made by the Competition Commission not to prohibit below-cost selling of certain frequently purchased goods.

Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme

Mr. Gill: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for what reason hauliers are excluded from access to the Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme. [160405]

Ms Hewitt: The Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme operates under the European Commission Block Exemption Regulations on de minimis aid to small and medium-sized enterprises. This specifically excludes the transport sector.

UK/US Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty

Mrs. Gilroy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on recent developments concerning the UK/US Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. [160610]

Dr. Howells: A side letter to the treaty formerly excluded competition cases from its provisions. As part of this Government's policy of improving international co-operation in the fight against international cartels, we have decided that this exclusion is no longer justified. We have therefore agreed with the US Administration that the side letter should be amended in order to bring such cases within the scope of the treaty; an exchange of Notes Verbals dated 30 April and 1 May brings this amendment into effect. The text of this exchange has been laid in the Library of the House.

This action underlines the Government's commitment to improving co-operation in the competition area. In addition, any disclosure of competition-related information to the US will now be subject to the same safeguards as apply in other cases.

Habitats and Birds Directives

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will introduce regulations to apply the Habitats and Birds Directives to the UK Continental Shelf; and when he will be in a position to make licence awards in the Nineteenth Round of offshore petroleum licensing. [160586]

Mr. Hain: I have today laid Regulations which apply the EU Birds and Habitats Directives to offshore petroleum licensing, and activities carried out under those licences. The Regulations introduce, for the first time, a requirement that seismic surveys must be granted consent by the Secretary of State before they can take place. They also cover the granting of authorisations for pipelines and approval of decommissioning plans. They serve to emphasise the importance of marine habitat and species protection.

8 May 2001 : Column: 69W

The Offshore Petroleum Activities (Conservation of Habitats) Regulations (No 2001/1754), which will come into force on 31 May, take account of a number of helpful comments received by my Department following a wide- ranging public consultation on earlier draft proposals.

These Regulations mark a substantial improvement in the transparency of our environmental and licensing regimes. In particular, the Regulations require that the objectives of the Directives are met not just for habitats that are already identified as needing conservation or protection, but also those that the Government are likely to nominate in the future.

I am also pleased to announce that the DTI has completed the assessment of the applications made in the Nineteenth Round of offshore petroleum licensing against financial, environmental and technical criteria. Environmental factors have been considered in the light of an independent comprehensive strategic environmental assessment of that part of the UK Continental Shelf between the Shetland and Faroes Islands that is the subject of the round (the 'White Zone'), and as though these Regulations were already in force and fully in accordance with the Habitats and Birds Directives. I intend to make licence awards to the following companies, once the Regulations come into force.

Amerada Hess Ltd.BG International (NSW) Ltd.
Dong Efterforskning OG Produktion
Phillips Petroleum Company UK Ltd.Statoil UK Ltd.
Veba Oil & Gas UK Ltd.
104/9 + 204/10
Amerada Hess Ltd.Texaco North Sea UK Company
Dong Efterforskning OG Produktion
OMV (UK) Ltd.
AmeradaBG International (NSW) Ltd.
Dong Efterforskning OG Produktion
Texaco North Sea UK CompanyConoco UK Ltd.
EDC (Europe) Ltd.
BP Exploration Operating Company Ltd.Shell UK Ltd.
Amerada Hess Ltd.BG International (NSW) Ltd.
Dong Efterforskning OG Produktion
213/5 + 214/1
Texaco North Sea UK CompanyIntrepid Energy North Sea Ltd.
213/26 + 213/27
Texaco North Sea UK Company

As a result of the licence awards, at least seven exploration wells will be drilled in the White Zone--an area which has world class potential for significant petroleum discoveries. Developments here would provide a significant boost for jobs in Scotland and north-east England as well as boosting the UK economy generally.

Research Spending

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will provide a breakdown of the regional distribution of (a) spending by the Research Councils and (b) Government research spending. [160457]

8 May 2001 : Column: 70W

Mr. Alan Johnson: (a) Of the £1.449 billion spent by the Research Councils during 1999-2000, £1.271 billion (around 88 per cent.) was spent on research in the UK. The remainder was spent mainly on international subscriptions (7 per cent.) and central expenditure (5 per cent.).

The expenditure in each of the home countries is given in the table.

£ millionPercentage
Northern Ireland50.3

Using Research Council expenditure in universities only, a distribution of spend in the English Government Office regions and the other home countries can be obtained as follows:

Region£ millionPercentage
East Midlands28.65.2
North East16.63.0
North West56.910.4
South East82.915.1
South West27.35.0
West Midlands32.25.9
Yorkshire and the Humber47.78.7
England total460.583.8
Northern Ireland4.70.9
Grand total549.5100.0

(b) The following figures for the intramural expenditure for Government Departments, excluding Research Councils, are calculated by the Office for National Statistics on a "pro rata" basis from the regional employment splits.

£ millionPercentage
East Midlands4.40.6
North East0.30.04
North West2.90.4
South East271.336.7
South West115.315.6
West Midlands110.214.9
Yorkshire and the Humber27.73.8
England total631.785.8
Northern Ireland8.01.1
Grand total730.9100.0

8 May 2001 : Column: 71W

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