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Michael Fabricant: To ask the Chairman of the Administration Committee when she will publish rules on the criteria by which individuals may hold 28A Lobby, other Press Gallery, and other House of Commons passes. [30813]

Mrs. Roe [holding answer 29 January 2002]: Authorisation and control of House of Commons passes is the responsibility of the Sergeant at Arms who I understand intends to carry out a review of the qualifications associated with the various pass categories. Once the review is completed, I expect the Serjeant at Arms to report to the committee, and to publish details of any changes to the criteria for entitlement that are made as a result of the review.

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The committee continues to endorse the recommendations of the Second Report of the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services), 1987–88, "Access to the Precincts of the House" (HC580), which contains guidelines on the availability of passes.



Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on progress with the target on the unit cost of administering bankruptcy and compulsory liquidation cases. [23164]

Miss Melanie Johnson: As at the end of the last financial year, 31 March 2001, the unit cost of case administration by the Insolvency Service had increased by 9 per cent. This was principally the result of the direct costs of a new IT system implemented in 1999–2000, which accounted for 5.1 per cent. and the costs of implementing major IT change; the consequent training programme contributed significantly to the remainder.


Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to record the number of incidents and nature of damage to property caused by different types of fireworks. [26666]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 11 January 2002]: We have no plans. Damage to property is a matter for the Home Office.


Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will suspend Arthur Andersen accountants from Government contracts until the US Senate Committee investigation into Enron is completed. [28520]

Mr. Wilson: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 23 January 2002, Official Report, columns 913–14W.

Household Products

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to control the levels of toxicity used in household products; and if she will make a statement. [29703]

Miss Melanie Johnson: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Tewkesbury (Mr. Robertson) on 22 January 2002, Official Report, column 744W.


Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations she has received regarding the impact of regulations on smaller businesses. [30164]

Nigel Griffiths: I regularly discuss the impact of regulation with SMEs and their representative bodies, including the Federation of Small Businesses and the Forum of Private Business.

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During a visit to Brussels next month, I am hosting a small business:europe event to champion the cause of SMEs in the fight against red tape. In light of this, I have written to all Small Business Council members (who advise on small business policy) and other SME stakeholders seeking their assistance in compiling a strong case with which to press their case with Commissioners and MEPs.

Furthermore, the DTI review has strengthened the fight against red tape by giving regulatory responsibility to the chair of the Small Business Council.

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the extra costs to pension funds of draft regulations on fixed term workers. [31838]

Alan Johnson: A regulatory impact assessment (RIA), detailing the costs and benefits of the draft Fixed Term Employees' (Prevention of less favourable treatment) Regulations, was published on 21 January this year and a copy is in the Library of the House. The RIA estimates the benefits to employees and costs to employers of preventing discrimination against fixed term employees as regards access to occupational pension schemes at £33–97 million, with some additional administration costs that it has not been possible to estimate. This figure does not take into account that, in some cases, employers will be able to objectively justify excluding fixed term employees from occupational pension schemes where they are unlikely to benefit.

Rural Post Offices

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to grant additional funds to keep open rural sub-post offices threatened with closure under Consignia's strategic plan; and if she will make a statement. [29992]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 24 January 2002]: Consignia has submitted no such strategic plan. In addition to the £2 million fund to support volunteer and community initiatives to maintain or re-open post office facilities in rural areas where traditional services would otherwise close, the Government are committed to providing transitional financial assistance to rural post offices. Advice received at the end of last year from the Postal Services Commission on transitional financial assistance to the rural network is currently under consideration.


Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how much was incurred in costs by the English liquidators' staff, and what the legal fees were for the trial of the stigma issue involving the former employees of BCCI; [31051]

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Miss Melanie Johnson: The Department does not hold such information. These are matters for the liquidators of the company.

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the creditors of BCCI will receive the next dividend payment. [31048]

Miss Melanie Johnson: This is a matter for the liquidators of the company.

Enterprise Bill

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she plans to introduce the Enterprise Bill. [31697]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Proposals for an enterprise Bill were included in the Queen's Speech at the start of this parliamentary Session. The Government's proposals were then set out in two White Papers "Productivity and Enterprise: A World Class Competition Regime" and "Productivity and Enterprise: Insolvency—A Second Chance", published on 31 July 2001.

The Government will introduce a Bill as soon as parliamentary time permits.

South West RDA

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much money the south-west RDA spent on advertising the South West in (a) 1998–99 and (b) 2000–01. [31828]

Alan Johnson: The first year of operation for the south-west RDA was 1999–2000. In 2000–01 the RDA spent approximately £30,000 on advertising the south- west. In that year the RDA also spent approximately £93,000 on inward investment promotion and publicity, targeted at attracting foreign-owned businesses to the south-west.

European Competition Investigations

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many investigations have been launched by the European competition authorities into companies headquartered in (a) the UK, (b) France and (c) Germany in the past five years. [31387]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 30 January 2002]: This information is not available in the form requested.

Energy Generation

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on progress towards more environmentally friendly energy generation. [29566]

Mr. Wilson: The Cabinet Office's Performance and Innovation Unit have recently undertaken a strategic review of the UK's energy policy including the longer- term role for renewable energy. The Government's work on developing environmentally friendly energy generation has continued throughout this period with several new initiatives being implemented to ensure the development of renewable sources of energy and cleaner coal technology.

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Subject to parliamentary approval, we shall shortly be implementing the Renewables Obligation. In addition, renewables generated electricity has been exempted from the climate change levy and existing Non Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO) contracts have been protected. These measures will create a long-term market incentive for renewables worth over £1 billion per year by 2010.

We are underpinning the obligation with direct Government funding for renewables worth over £260 million between 2001 and 2004 and within this, we are setting up an extensive capital grants programme for offshore wind and energy crops projects, initiating a major photovoltaics demonstration programme, and boosting research and development.

We recently implemented an order to allow locational flexibility for NFFO 3, 4 and 5 projects that have not yet been commissioned. This will allow more appropriate locations to be found in order to overcome problems in securing planning permission.

We have initiated studies of each UK region's capacity to generate electricity from renewable sources. Once all these assessments are completed, it is expected that specific regional targets for renewable energy will be adopted across the UK.

The Government are also exploring the scope for upgrading the electricity distribution system to enable the UK's huge renewable energy resources to be exploited to the full. For example, we have commissioned an initial study of the feasibility of an underwater cable to connect parts of the Western seaboard of the UK directly to the National Grid.

In the Cleaner Coal technologies arena, the Government are already investing £12 million over the three-year period 2000–01 to 2002–03 on research and development. We will also be publishing in the very near future the findings of the review of the case for Government support for Clean Coal Technology power plant.

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