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18 Dec 2001 : Column: 261W
Nigel Griffiths: The latest figures from the E-commerce International Benchmarking Studies2001, which monitors business use of information communication technologies in the UK, shows that 540,000 small and medium enterprises are trading online in the UK.
The 'Study' does not break this figure down to constituency levels. However, it does confirm that we are making significant progress towards our aim of making the UK the best place in the world to trade online. For example, the target of having 1.5 million small businesses wired up to the digital marketplace by 2002 was achieved last year and continues to increase with 1.9 million now connected.
Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claims have been registered, broken down by coalfield area; how many live claimants there are; and how many (a) widows and (b) estates are claiming. 
Mr. Wilson [holding answer 12 December 2001]: In collating statistics, the Department does not normally distinguish between estate claims for widows and others. In the time given, these figures are not available. IRISC, the Department's claims handlers, have registered claims in the following regions:
|Region||Number of live claims||Number of estate claims|
Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many miners claiming chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have been diagnosed by Health Call to be suffering with asthma, broken down by coalfield area; and how much money has been paid to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claimants, broken down by coalfield area, showing how many (a) final and (b) expedited settlements have been made; and how many interim payments have been made. 
Mr. Wilson [holding answer 12 December 2001]: The court judgment did not accept that asthma can be caused by working in mining, but acknowledged that it may be made worse temporarily by coal dust or fumes. Under the Handling Agreement, the sum of £2,500 will be paid for temporary exacerbation of asthma plus interest. This sum is not subject to apportionment and is paid following full medical assessment. Interims and expedited offers are not applicable in this category. To date nine claimants have been diagnosed as having temporary exacerbation of asthma only (with no other accompanying compensatable disability), broken down as follows:
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|Region||Number of claimants||Damages paid (£)|
|Tyne and Wear||1||2,627|
Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for what reason a distinction is not made in the draft Renewables Obligation between conventional mixed waste incineration and energy from waste residue after separation, recycling and materials recovery. 
Mr. Wilson: Such a distinction has not been made because the Government intend that the Renewables Obligation should encourage the development of more efficient or environmentally beneficial "energy from waste" technologies. These technologies include pyrolysis, gasification and anaerobic digestion.
Mr. Simon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is being done to ensure that manufacturers are (a) promptly and (b) accurately informed of what stage their applications for export licences have reached. 
Nigel Griffiths: Any exporter who has submitted an application for an export licence can telephone the Export Control Organisation (ECO), who retrieve from their licensing database up to date information about the stage that application has reached.
For cases where ECO is awaiting a response from another Government Department, the ECO has agreed with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development, arrangements for direct communication between exporters and specified contacts in those Departments.
These arrangements apply if the ECO has not contacted the applicant for 15 or more working days following dispatch of their standard acknowledgement letter, or the receipt by them of any further information requested from the applicant in connection with the application. If the applicant telephones the licensing officer dealing with the application, the ECO will check their records to establish the current situation. If they are awaiting advice from one of their advisers and that advice request has been
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outstanding for 10 or more days they will give the applicant a contact name and telephone number in the section of the relevant Department in order that the applicant may obtain accurate information on the progress of their application.
The ECO is planning to introduce a new IT system which will enable exporters to apply for Standard Individual Export Licences over the internet and will also provide an online facility for any exporter to find out what stage their application has reached.
Nigel Griffiths: A number of IT and other continuous improvement initiatives are in train to assist exporters seeking to obtain export licences. These include a project to enable exporters to apply for a licence over the internet.
Nigel Griffiths: A joint Confederation of British Industry and Export Control Organisation working group works to address issues of concern, including difficulties faced by manufacturers with regard to their applications for export licences.
Among the difficulties I have identified are delays arising from the assessments of use of exports for internal repression, external aggression, diversion to other end-users and preventing the development of WMDs, among others.
Nigel Griffiths: The Government do recognise the effect that delays in the processing of an export licence application can have on individual companies, but the need to give applicants a quick decision cannot outweigh the Government's determination to manage the transfer of all goods and technology controlled for strategic reasons in a responsible manner by rigorously assessing all relevant export licence applications against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria.
Mr. Simon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what assessment she has made of the criteria that need to be met by British manufacturers, with special reference to the obtaining of export licences, in order to compete on level terms with their (a) European and (b) American counterparts; 
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Nigel Griffiths: Many of the UK's controls on the export of military and dual use items are derived from international commitments that apply equally to competitors from the EU and the US as they do to British companies.
We have no evidence to suggest that British manufacturers face any more difficulties in obtaining export licences than their EU or American competitors. The provisions of the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports applies equally to all EU member states. In addition I would refer my hon. Friend to the Quadripartite Committee's analysis of the US system of export licensing published on 25 July 2000 (HC467), a copy of which is in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Simon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of actions manufacturers can take to speed up the process by which their applications for export licences are granted; and if she will make a statement. 
Nigel Griffiths: In order to assist the Export Control Organisation to process an application for an individual export licence as quickly as possible, exporters are advised to submit at the outset a completed application form together with all relevant supporting documentation at the earliest opportunity before a contract has been signed. Copies of the application form and guidance notes are available on the ECO website www.dti.gov.uk/ export.control.
Nigel Griffiths: This is set out in a memorandum submitted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Quadripartite Committee on the roles and responsibilities of the main Departments involved in the licensing process, published on 15 June 1999 (HC540), available from the Library of the House.
Mr. Simon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the security threat posed by the granting of export licences to manufacturers selling their products to states that form part of the coalition against international terrorism. 
Nigel Griffiths: The Government do not comment publicly on specific security threats. All relevant export licence applications are considered against the Consolidated EU and national arms export licensing requirements.
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