Previous Section Index Home Page

Internal Market, Consumer and

Tourism Council

Mr. Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the outcome was of the Internal Market, Consumer and Tourism Council held in Brussels on 26 November; what the Government's stance was on each issue discussed, including its voting record; and if she will make a statement. [18900]

Ms Hewitt: The Commission presented two reports concerning tourism, highlighting a need for a more systematic and co-ordinated approach among tourism stakeholders through a package of 10 activities. The Commission acknowledged the long-term impacts of September 11 on tourism.

The Council reached political agreement on the Seventh amendment to the Cosmetics Directive which will introduce a EU-wide ban on animal testing of cosmetic

10 Dec 2001 : Column: 652W

products. This means that cosmetic products cannot be sold in the EU if the finished product, or any of its ingredients or combinations of ingredients, have been tested on animals, once an alternative to that test has been accepted and published by the OECD

The Council reached political agreement to amend Directive 76/769/EEC on dangerous substances, which would introduce a ban on certain carcinogenic azodyes. There was also a common approach agreed on the ban of carcinogens, mutagens or substances toxic to reproduction (CMRs)—22 substances would now be banned under this directive. A progress report on phthalates was also discussed

The Presidency gave an oral progress report on the proposal for the establishment of the European Food Authority. The Commission said that it would report in about a year's time on the implementation of the Data Protection Directive.

The Council adopted a draft Resolution on consumer over-indebtedness, and the Presidency gave a short report on the October Brussels conference on consumer involvement in the Single Market.

The Council discussed the principles of the Community patent focusing in particular on the role of National Patent Offices and the language regime.

The Council agreed draft conclusions on the Commission's proposals to make a negotiated agreement (rather than introduce legislation) with car manufacturers to make cars less dangerous for pedestrians.

Commissioner Byrne gave an account of the green paper on Consumer Protection. He spoke on the opportunities of the internal market, the Euro and e-commerce being dependent on consumer confidence and said that enforcement at EU level was particularly important. The green paper would be open to a formal hearing and in-depth consultation.

The Council discussed simplification of the regulatory environment focusing on the Commission's Action Plan and the report by the intergovernmental Mandelkern Group. Member states welcomed the Mandelkern report and the Presidency concluded there would be further discussion of this at Laeken.

The two proposed directives on public procurement (which aim to simplify, clarify and modernise public procurement) were subject to a progress report, and the Commission called on the Council to aim for a common position as soon as possible.

The Council reached political agreement on the insurance intermediaries directive. This aims to create a passport for insurance intermediaries to operate throughout the EU and to set minimum professional standards and information requirements to ensure consumer protection. Political agreement was also reached on the proposed regulation concerning cross border payments in euro—which proposes that the price of retail cross-border payments in euro should be the same as the price of equivalent domestic payments.

The Council agreed conclusions on Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI) which envisaged a new framework on state aid and SGEI; an examination of the case for a horizontal Directive based on Article 16; steps to improve the evaluation of SGEI.

10 Dec 2001 : Column: 653W

The Council took note of the joint work programme of the three Presidencies (Belgium, Spain and Denmark) and there were presentations on the Single Market Scoreboard, the Commission's Services Strategy and the Commission's Internal Market Strategy.

The Council reached agreement on the following legislative items: political agreement was achieved on cosmetics directive, dangerous substances directive covering azocolourants, CMRs, the insurance intermediaries directive and the regulation on cross-border Euro payments, all of which the UK supported. The Commission's voluntary agreement with industry on pedestrian protection was approved again with UK support.

Nuclear Reactors

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to commission new nuclear reactors at existing nuclear power stations in the south-west. [20281]

Mr. Wilson: The Department has no plans to commission new nuclear power stations either in the south-west or elsewhere nor has it received any application from others to do so.

EU Chemicals Strategy

Ms Drown: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the names and positions of (a) Ministers, (b) officials and (c) political advisers in her Department who communicated with UK MEPs prior to the European Parliament's vote on the Schoerling report on the EC White Paper on Chemicals on 15 November; and if she will make a statement on information given by them to MEPs on this matter. [20856]

Ms Hewitt: My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation; Lord Sainsbury, has been in contact with Glyn Ford MEP to explain the overall UK position on the EU Chemicals Strategy. The UK position which he set out was entirely consistent with the overall Government policy on this issue, on which my right hon. Friend the Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs leads. The UK Government support the aims and objectives of the EU Chemicals Strategy. We wish to see a workable strategy which protects the environment and human health by targeting chemicals of most concern through the authorisation process while at the same time minimising animal testing, encouraging innovation and maintaining the competitiveness of the chemicals industry. We support the inclusion in the authorisation process of chemicals which are at the same time persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBTs) and which are very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB), once the necessary criteria for identification of PBTs and vPvBs are established; and also the inclusion of known endocrine disruptors when agreed scientifically valid test methods and criteria are established to identify these substances. Background briefing was also provided to Glyn Ford MEP in early September on a range of DTI issues, including on the EU Chemicals Strategy. This again was entirely consistent with the Government policy as set out above.

10 Dec 2001 : Column: 654W

Parliamentary Questions

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage of parliamentary questions replied to by her Department were the subject of a holding answer in the last three sessions of Parliament. [22020]

Ms Hewitt: Following is the information requested.


Ariane Programme

Barbara Follett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment her Department has made of the impact of the termination of the UK's involvement in the Ariane programme on the manufacturing and service sector; and what effect this will have on Government funding for the Galileo project. [21678]

Ms Hewitt: There has been no reduction in the UK's involvement in the Ariane programme. Our contribution was decided upon at the European Space Agency Ministerial, which was hosted by the UK recently in Edinburgh.

There is therefore no effect on other programmes.

EGNOS Projects

Barbara Follett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment her Department has made of the relationship between the (a) amount of funding provided by European Space Agency member states to the EGNOS project and (b) amount and quality of work won by contractors from each ESA member state; if this assessment will affect UK funding for the Galileo project; and if she will make a statement. [21679]

Ms Hewitt: The amount and quality of work won by contractors under ESA contracts is in direct proportion to the investment made by member states due to the application of juste-retour to all ESA contracts.

The UK took a 20 per cent. stake in the EGNOS programme to secure key elements of the infrastructure (i) to ensure that UK industry secured high technology contracts, and (ii) to maximise our influence in the eventual operation of the system. I believe that we have been successful in achieving both these objectives.

My Department is working closely with the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions and others within Whitehall to examine the economic case for providing further funding to the Galileo project, if it goes ahead.

Fuel Poverty

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will publish details of the research underlying the statement in her press release number 250/01 dated 21 November on the proportion of households without a gas supply living in fuel poverty. [19628]

10 Dec 2001 : Column: 655W

Mr. Wilson: The information on the number of fuel poor households without mains gas is included in the report of the working group on extending the gas network. This report will shortly be published on the Department of Trade and Industry website and copies placed in the Libraries of the House.

Next Section Index Home Page