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Rail Services (Scotland)

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what representations he has received relating to the vertical integration of rail services and the railway network within Scotland; [24139]

Mr. Jamieson: Representations have been received both for and against vertical integration from a number of train operating companies and in general correspondence. It is clear that the apparently simple notion of vertical integration subsumes a range of options about which there is no consensus in the rail industry or elsewhere, whether in regard to Scotland or otherwise.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Export Licences

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many export licence applications were received by her Department from companies based in the

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Buckingham constituency in each year since 1997; how many were (a) granted and (b) refused each year; and what the (i) average and (ii) maximum time taken to process applications was in each year. [24841]

Nigel Griffiths: These records are not kept on a constituency basis.

Details of all export licensing decisions together with information on performance in processing standard individual export licence applications are published in the Government's Annual Reports on Strategic Export Controls, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what weight she places on the protection of jobs in areas of high unemployment when considering (a) Form 680 applications and (b) export licence applications. [25734]

Nigel Griffiths: The processing of Form 680 applications for the advance approval for promotion prior to formal application for an export licence is the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence.

All relevant export licence applications are considered on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria, including the potential effect on the UK's economic, financial and commercial interests. I refer the hon. Member to the reply from my right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Peter Hain), the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Laura Moffatt) on 26 October 2000, Official Report, columns 199–203W.

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the value of business covered (a) by Form 680 applications and (b) by export licence applications (i) granted and (ii) turned down each year since 1 May 1997. [25735]

Nigel Griffiths: The processing of Form 680 applications for the advance approval for promotion prior to formal application for an export licence is the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence.

The value of standard individual export licence (SIEL) applications for which a licence was issued is published by destination in the Government's Annual Reports on Strategic Export Controls, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

It would entail disproportionate cost to establish the value of business covered by SIEL applications refused in each year since 1 May 1997.

Fuel Poverty

Mr. Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many and what proportion of people over 60 years of age live in households that are fuel poor; [17468]

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Mr. Wilson: It is estimated that in 2000 there were 2.8 million households in England in fuel poverty (based on income including housing benefit and income support for mortgage interest), or 3.9 million households (based on income excluding housing benefit and income support for mortgage interest), representing falls of 15 per cent. and 13 per cent. respectively compared to 1998. More detailed breakdowns of fuel poverty in 2000 are not available as the estimates for 2000 are broad estimates based on changes in incomes and fuel prices, rather than being based on survey data. Some more detailed breakdowns are available for 1998; however, for some particular analyses the latest information relates to 1996.

The latest available figures indicate that in England 1.9 million (29 per cent.) households headed by an older couple or a single person over the age of 60 were in fuel poverty in 1998. This is based on fuel poverty being defined as when a household needs to spend more than 10 per cent. of its income (including housing benefit and income support for mortgage interest) on fuel in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime. When fuel poverty is defined using income excluding housing benefit or income support for mortgage interest 2.3 million (35 per cent. of) households headed by an older couple or a single person over the age of 60 were in fuel poverty in England in 1998.

The table presents estimates of the number of people and the number of households in England in fuel poverty in 1998, the latest year for which estimates of the number of people in fuel poverty are available.

Fuel poverty in England in 1998
Million

PeopleHouseholds
Fuel poverty defined using income including housing benefit and ISMI(1)6.23.3
Fuel poverty defined using income excluding housing benefit and ISMI(2)8.74.5

(1) Fuel poverty defined as when a household needs to spend more than 10 per cent. of its income (including housing benefit and income support for mortgage interest) on fuel in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime.

(2) Fuel poverty defined as when a household needs to spend more than 10 per cent. of its income (excluding housing benefit and income support for mortgage interest) on fuel in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime.

Source:

1998 Energy Follow Up Survey to the English House Condition Survey


Information on fuel poverty is not available split by the rate of disability living allowance. However, the latest available information (relating to 1996) on figures for households receiving the different components of the disability living allowance that are in fuel poverty, is available from the Libraries of the House.

An analysis of fuel poverty in England in 1998 was published in August 2001 by DTI and DEFRA, and is available at www.dti.gov.uk/energy/fuelpoverty/index.htm.

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Fuel poverty is a devolved matter and therefore it is for the respective Assemblies and Parliament to report on the situation in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Instruments of Torture

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what controls she places on the (a) manufacture and (b) export of instruments of torture; and if she will make a statement. [24553]

Nigel Griffiths: The manufacture of electric-shock weapons is regulated by the Firearms Act 1968 as amended.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply from my right hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook), the then Foreign Secretary, to my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, North (Syd Rapson) on 28 July 1997, Official Report, columns 65–66W, which announced a ban on the export or transhipment from the UK of certain specified equipment that has been used for torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Steel Industry

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the factors which underlay the recent loss of jobs in Newport at Corus and Alcan plants, with particular reference to the value of (a) sterling and (b) the euro. [24909]

Mr. Wilson: The Government fully understand the difficulties that the weakness of the euro has caused for British industry, particularly manufacturing. However decisions by Corus and Alcan to rationalise their operations, which have unfortunately resulted in job losses, are based on many factors, including the slowdown of the world economy, which are not limited to the value of sterling and the euro.

Miners' Compensation

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the average time scale is between an application by a miner for compensation and the awarding of compensation; and if she will make a statement. [24945]

Mr. Wilson: The Handling Agreement for respiratory disease was formally signed on 24 September 1999 and claims could not be processed before this date. The average time scale from this date, or date of claim if after 24 September 1999, to settlement by expedited payment, following spirometry testing, is seven months. The average time scale, as set out above, for settlement via the full Medical Assessment Process is 1 year 11 months.

This does not take into consideration interim payments that the Department has been making since May 1998. These payments are made as soon as IRISC, the Department's claims handlers, are in receipt of the relevant documentation.

Following the resolution of the main outstanding issues for respiratory disease, the number of full and final offers made has risen sharply. The Department continues to identify parts of the process which can be improved and it is envisaged that the volumes of offers should increase as the Department and its contractors continue to ramp up operations.

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The Handling Agreement in respect of Vibration White Finger, VWF, was formally signed on 22 January 1998 and claims could not have been processed before this date. The average time scale from this date, or date of claim if after 22 January 1998, to settlement is 1 year 4 months. This also does not include interim payments made.

It is envisaged that all existing claimants will be medically assessed by spring 2002.

Taken together with compensation for respiratory disease, the Department made 7,000 offers, worth £47.7 million in November alone.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many miners have applied for compensation; how many have been given compensation; how much has been given in compensation to date; and if she will make a statement. [24944]

Mr. Wilson: In respect of respiratory disease, IRISC, the Department's claims handlers, have registered 173,600 claims, to date. 58,273 individual payments have been made totalling £238.8 million.

With regards to Vibration White Finger, VWF, 133,662 claims have been initiated. 71,954 individual payments have been made amounting to £438.5 million.

Following resolution of the main outstanding issues, IRISC are now making significant numbers of final offers. In November alone, for both respiratory disease and VWF, 7,000 offers were made worth £47.7 million.

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made in assigning a job code to those working as instructors and training officers in relation to mineworkers' compensation claims for respiratory disease. [24737]

Mr. Wilson: The issue of the appropriate job dust factor for training officers was recently referred to the Dust Reference Panel (DRP), an expert body that is jointly instructed by the claimants' solicitors' co-ordinating group (CG) and the Department. The DRP's report concludes that training officers would spend the majority of their time in a surface non-dusty environment, with only occasional visits underground, and as such should be classified as 'surface non-dusty'. The Department is in discussion with the CG about the DRP's conclusions. If both parties accept the DRP's report, training officers will not be eligible for compensation under the scheme. The category of mining instructor has not yet been referred to the DRP, and no request has been received from the CG for such a referral. The Department proposes to put the category to the DRP as soon as possible, subject to the CG's agreement.


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