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Post Offices (Scotland)

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post offices (a) opened and (b) closed in Scotland in each of the last three years. [9219]

Mr. Alexander [holding answer 23 October 2001]: I am informed by the Post Office Ltd. that historical data on the numbers of post office openings and closures are not maintained separately. The numbers of post offices operating in Scotland over the last three financial years were as follows:

I am informed by the Post Office that an on-going revision of data has affected individual country totals. I also understand that, across the UK as a whole, of the closures in the year ending March 2001, the Post Office designate only four as permanent.

A £2 million fund to support relocation and refurbishment initiatives by volunteer or community groups to maintain or reopen post office facilities in rural areas where the traditional post office is closing received parliamentary approval in July.

Legal Action (Associated Newspapers)

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the cost met from public funds of the legal action taken by the previous Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Tyneside, North (Mr. Byers) against Associated Newspapers. [10146]

Ms Hewitt: No final bill for legal costs has yet been presented by the solicitors acting for my right hon. Friend the Member for Tyneside, North (Mr. Byers).

Public Telephones (Deaf People)

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the difficulties faced by the deaf population with regard to the use of public telephone kiosks, with special reference to the 999 emergency telephone service; and what plans she has to look at improvements which could be made. [9875]

Mr. Alexander: The regulation of telecoms operators is the responsibility of Oftel. Oftel is working with those operators that provide public call box services, such as British Telecom, and with disabled groups to ensure that more public text phones are made available to enable deaf people to have improved access to telecoms services, including 999 services. Oftel has also implemented

29 Oct 2001 : Column: 503W

regulations which require other operators of public call boxes to offer a text relay service. All textphones at public call boxes provide access to the emergency services through the dialling of a dedicated access code. The text is then relayed on to the emergency services. BT has installed 1,950 public textphones at airports, railway stations and motorway service centres too. These offer BT's newly launched text relay services called 'TextDirect'. A hearing customer will now be able to directly dial a customer who is deaf by using an access code and vice versa.

Transport and Telecoms Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the outcome was of the Transport and Telecommunications Council held in Brussels on 15 October; what the Government's stance was on each issue discussed, including their voting record; and if she will make a statement. [9363]

Mr. Alexander: I represented the UK for the posts and telecoms aspects of the Transport and Telecoms Council in Luxembourg on 15 October.

The Council, with the support of almost all member states, reached political agreement on a common position on postal services liberalisation which would safeguard the continued provision of universal service and provide for UK licensing arrangements. The UK supported the political agreement having secured adjustments to meet these points. Under the agreement, the level of services that may be reserved will reduce to 100 grams in 2003, to 50 grams in 2006 but leave the final step in 2009 to a Council/European Parliament decision in 2006 following a Commission assessment of universal service.

The Presidency gave information on the proposed Communications Data Protection Directive. At the UK's initiative in the light of the measures announced by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on 15 October 2001, Official Report, column 923, member states discussed the implications of the directive for the retention of data for law-enforcement purposes following the recent terrorist attacks in the United States. It was agreed that there should be further consideration to ensure that the directive will not restrict member states from taking action against terrorism.

The Presidency also gave information on the proposed Framework, Access, Authorisation and Universal Service Directives arising from the 1999 Communications Review. These proposals are now undergoing second readings in the European Parliament following the Council's adoption of common positions in September.

The Council held a debate on Network and Information Security, on which the Presidency intends to present a Resolution at the Transport and Telecoms Council in December.

The Commission also presented a Communication on website accessibility for disabled users, part of the eEurope Action Plan, and a Communication on the Interchange of Data between Administrations (IDA) programme, aimed at improving working practices within the EU.

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First Class Mail

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of first class mail was delivered the next day by postcode for the most recent quarter for which figures are available. [8248]

Mr. Alexander: Operational issues are a matter for Consignia.

However, I have been advised by the company that postcode area performance for the first quarter of the current financial year 2001–02 is as follows:

Postcode area performance (April to June 2001)—first class stamped and metered

Postcode areaAll posted
AB Aberdeen91.3
AL St. Albans81.1
B Birmingham86.9
BA Bath89.1
BB Blackburn and Burnley83.2
BD Bradford95.4
BH Bournemouth88.3
BL Bolton87.8
BN Brighton91.8
BR Bromley87.8
BS Bristol86.4
BT Northern Ireland86.9
CA Carlisle87.9
CB Cambridge88.7
CF Cardiff87.6
CH Chester and Deeside80.9
CM Chelmsford85.3
CO Colchester88.7
CR Croydon89.0
CT Canterbury90.5
CV Coventry and Warwickshire91.7
CW Crewe89.6
DA Dartford88.1
DD Dundee88.9
DE Derby91.2
DG Dumfries91.3
DH Durham91.1
DL Darlington91.2
DN Doncaster93.1
DT Dorchester88.7
DY Dudley84.7
E London East73.4
EC City of London83.2
EH Edinburgh88.2
EN Enfield74.9
EX Exeter87.9
FK Falkirk87.2
FY Fylde86.7
G Glasgow85.4
GL Gloucester86.6
GU Guildford85.2
HA Harrow78.5
HD Huddersfield92.1
HG Harrogate86.7
HP Hemel Hempstead85.1
HR Hereford87.0
HS Hebrides79.6
HU Hull89.0
HX Halifax92.6
IG Ilford86.1
IP Ipswich81.2
IV Inverness89.4
KA Kilmarnock88.0
KT Kingston upon Thames90.2
KW Kirkwall84.2
KY Kirkcaldy91.9
L Liverpool82.4
LA Lancaster86.0
LD Llandrindod Wells88.5
LE Leicester92.2
LL North Wales80.8
LN Lincoln91.5
LS Leeds89.4
LU Luton80.8
M Manchester82.5
ME Maidstone88.5
MK Milton Keynes85.1
ML Motherwell84.2
N London north81.3
NE Newcastle88.5
NG Nottingham89.3
NN Northamptonshire86.6
NP Newport84.7
NR Norwich88.2
NW London north west79.5
OL Oldham86.1
PA Paisley86.0
PE Peterborough83.7
PH Perth89.7
PL Plymouth87.7
PO Portsmouth89.9
PR Preston86.5
RG Reading85.2
RH Redhill89.6
RM Romford87.7
S Sheffield93.2
SA Swansea90.7
SE London south east81.7
SG Stevenage89.6
SK Stockport86.0
SL Slough83.2
SM Sutton92.4
SN Swindon83.2
SO Southampton87.9
SP Salisbury83.4
SR Sunderland93.2
SS Southend-on-Sea82.1
ST Stoke-on-Trent86.1
SW London south west77.4
SY Shrewsbury and mid Wales84.7
TA Taunton86.6
TD Borders90.2
TF Telford86.9
TN Tonbridge86.0
TQ Torquay86.5
TR Truro90.7
TS Teeside92.2
TW Twickenham91.4
UB Uxbridge80.1
W London west79.2
WA Warrington87.8
WC London west central79.8
WD Watford78.2
WF Wakefield86.6
WN Wigan91.3
WR Worcester90.3
WS Walsall88.1
WV Wolverhampton88.1
YO York89.6
ZE Lerwick85.6

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Icelandic Trawlermen (Compensation)

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many claims for compensation for Icelandic trawlermen have been rejected; and how many remain to be decided. [9977]

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Nigel Griffiths: At mid-October, 4,199 claims had been rejected and 1,781 were either on hold pending a decision about the 1979 cut-off date or awaiting further information, mainly from claimants themselves.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the (a) number and (b) total amount of compensation claims paid to Icelandic trawlermen, broken down by port. [9980]

Nigel Griffiths: The information is given in the table.

Compensation scheme for former Icelandic water trawlermen—payments as at 16 October 2001

Number of paymentsTotal amount paid (£)
West Yorkshire1141,197,687

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many claims for Icelandic trawlermen's compensation are not yet dealt with; and what legal advice she has received on the validity of this delay. [9978]

Nigel Griffiths: All claims received have been scrutinised and entered into the special computer system established for the scheme. I am satisfied that there has been no undue delay.

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