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Robert Hamill

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many Royal Ulster Constabulary officers who were present at the scene of the death of Robert Hamill on 27 April 1997 (a) have since left and (b) continue to serve in the RUC. [1055]

Jane Kennedy: Of the four officers in the vehicle near the scene of the assault on Robert Hamill on 27 April 1997 two officers have left the RUC, one officer is suspended and the other is still serving in the RUC.

Patten Reforms

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland by what means non-governmental organisations and victims' support groups may assist in monitoring implementation of the Patten reforms on policing. [1144]

Jane Kennedy: As recommended in the report of the Independent Commission on Policing, the Government have appointed a Commissioner to oversee the implementation of the policing reforms. Other groups and organisations may, of course, choose to follow implementation in areas of interest to them and many have been, and will continue to be, consulted on the introduction of changes.

Criminal Justice

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he will publish a draft Criminal Justice Bill for Northern Ireland; and what steps he is taking to improve the record of the police service in promoting parity of esteem. [1075]

Mr. Browne: It is our intention to publish in draft soon the Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill. Detailed preparation of the legislation and an implementation plan is well advanced. Subject to the outcome of consultations, we expect to bring forward the actual Bill in the autumn.

The police provide a service to the whole community in Northern Ireland.


Auld Report

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when the Auld report will be published. [2584]

Mr. Wills: Lord Justice Auld will complete his review of the criminal courts shortly. The Government will make arrangements for publication once his report is received.

9 Jul 2001 : Column: 355W


ATM Machines (Sub-post Offices)

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations have been made by the Government to the Post Office about its proposal to charge a levy for the use of ATM machines in sub-post offices. [2362]

Mr. Alexander [holding answer 5 July 2001]: Decisions about making transaction charges for use of ATM machines at sub-post offices are a commercial matter for Post Office Network. The Government do not welcome the imposition of charges for access to cash but where such charges apply this should be made clear to the user. Wherever possible, Post Office Network seek arrangements for ATM machines at sub-post offices to be free of transaction charges but in some locations it would not be financially viable to install ATMs without a transaction charge being made.

People on pensions and benefits have the option of collecting their cash free of charge over the post office counter and have no need to use a cash machine for which a transaction charge is made unless they choose to do so.

Employees Directive

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the compatibility of the EU directive establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees with the protocol on the application of subsidiarity and proportionality of the treaty of Amsterdam; and if she will make a statement. [2514]

Alan Johnson: Our view of the Commission's original proposal was that it was too prescriptive and paid insufficient regard to subsidiarity. By contrast, the text agreed by member states at the Employment and Social Affairs Council on 11 June avoids a rigid "one size fits all approach" which would be inappropriate for the UK given our diverse practices in this area. In particular the draft provides that the practical arrangements for information and consultation shall be defined and implemented in accordance with national law and industrial relations practices in individual member states.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her estimate is of the cost to industry of implementing the EU directive establishing a framework for informing and consulting employees. [2513]

Alan Johnson: My Department prepared a regulatory impact assessment on the Commission's original proposal. A copy was attached to Explanatory Memorandum 3099/98 submitted by my Department on 15 January 1999. This estimated that the recurring costs to the economy would be between £219 million–£257 million, and the non-recurring costs (of setting up arrangements) would be between £84 million–£88 million. The directive has yet to be finally agreed as it now goes to the European Parliament for Second Reading. A revised regulatory impact assessment will be prepared when the Government consult on the implementation of the directive in the UK.

9 Jul 2001 : Column: 356W

Office of Science and Technology

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if the review of the Office of Science and Technology carried out in her Department includes an examination of the research councils. [1696]

Ms Hewitt: There is no separate review being carried out of the Office of Science and Technology (OST).

The quinquennial review of the six grant-awarding Research Councils (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)) was announced on 13 February 2001 by my noble Friend Lord Sainsbury, Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation. Regular reviews are a key component of the Government's commitment to improving the quality and effectiveness of public services. Government agencies and non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) are required to be subject to quinquennial reviews which consider the alternative options for the provision of the service, the way that the service fits into wider governmental objectives, and the extent of any synergies with other service providers.

The review of the seventh council, the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC), a non-grant awarding body, was announced on 13 June 2000. The report of stage one was published in the autumn and stage two is underway.

The cross-departmental science and research review, announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 26 June 2001, Official Report, column 39W, will examine the funding of the UK science base and the effectiveness of all Departments' science and research programmes to ensure that they deliver maximum long-term benefits to the economy and quality of life. This covers Government-financed research across all Government Departments, including OST.

In addition, on 27 June 2001, Official Report, column 94W, I announced a wide-ranging review of DTI priorities and structure. This will consider the broad priorities of the whole Department, including OST, and how it directs its resources to make the Department more unified, modern and effective in framing policy and delivering services to customers.

Special Advisers

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the special advisers in her Department together with their date of appointment and their responsibilities; which of them are authorised to speak to the media; and if she will make a statement. [2160]

Ms Hewitt: To date, I have appointed one special adviser, Jim Godfrey. He was appointed on 11 June. He has a range of duties including the political aspects of media handling. I have no plans to make a statement.

9 Jul 2001 : Column: 357W


Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent assessment she has made of the impact of regulation on UK productivity. [2162]

Ms Hewitt: The Government keep the regulatory environment under constant review. Where it is shown that a regulation is unnecessary or ineffective, we will act to improve or abolish it. The Regulatory Reform Act 2001 provides us with a powerful and flexible tool to do this.

Strong competitive pressures across our economy are a key driver for productivity. The Government have announced that they wish the OFT and other competition authorities to advise where laws and regulations affect competition. This role applies to both existing and proposed legislation.

The International Institute of Management Development "World Competitiveness Yearbook" Indicators for 2000 show that UK labour market regulation is perceived to be significantly less restrictive than that of other major European countries and on a par with that in the United States. The OECD found in 1999 that in terms of product market regulation, the UK had the least restrictive overall regulatory environment of any member country.

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