Previous Section Index Home Page

Theft and Fraud

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what additional security measures are planned by her Department to deter and detect theft and fraud. [31785]

Ms Hewitt: DTI has a range of various crime prevention measures in place. These include:

1 Feb 2002 : Column 614W

The Department's Fraud Policy and Guidance on Fraud Risks and Prevention are available to all staff and are regularly updated. These make plain the responsibilities of all concerned in relation to fraud as well as the consequences of such misconduct. A "whistleblowing" system is in operation to enable staff to safely report suspected misconduct including fraud or theft. The contact details of the Departmental Fraud Officer are available to all staff should they wish advice on any fraud related issues.

There are no immediate plans to introduce additional security measures to deter theft or fraud but the situation is kept under regular review and further action could be initiated should circumstances change.

Minimum Wage

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what the current minimum wage level is; and what plans she has to increase this amount; [32535]

Alan Johnson: The current minimum wage rates are £4.10 per hour for workers aged 22 or above and £3.50 per hour for workers aged 18–21 inclusive. The Government have agreed that, subject to economic conditions, these rates should increase on 1 October 2002 to £4.20 and £3.60 per hour respectively.

Workers below the age of 18 do not qualify for the national minimum wage. There are no plans to set different minimum wage rates for different regions.


Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what independent review of BNFL's liabilities she commissioned prior to her announcement to the House on 28 November 2001. [32235]

Mr. Wilson: The Department received independent advice on many aspects of BNFL's business, including its liabilities, as part of the work it has undertaken on the company's future strategy.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her answer of 10 January 2002, Official Report, column 153W, on BNFL, if she will list the meetings with ministerial colleagues in which the insolvency of BNFL was discussed. [32419]

Mr. Wilson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry meets her ministerial colleagues in the Department regularly to discuss a range of matters.

1 Feb 2002 : Column 615W

Gas-fired Power Stations

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry who in her Department told the United States embassy in London that the moratorium on gas-fired power stations was due to be discussed at the Cabinet meeting of 4 June 1998; and if she will make a statement. [32557]

Mr. Wilson: The Department has no knowledge of any such contact.

Board Appointments

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will outline the procedure by which independent members will be appointed to sit on her Department's (a) new Strategy Board and (b) other boards as announced in November following the outcome of the Department's internal reviews. [33649]

Ms Hewitt: The procedure for appointing the independent members to the Strategy Board will be open and transparent with appointments made on the basis of merit. While the appointments do not fall within the remit of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, the procedures follow the principles and best practice laid down in the Commissioner's Code. I have employed search consultants to help us with the process.

The appointments will be advertised on the Department's website which will include an information pack containing details of the full procedure, job and person specification, and how to apply. This information will also explain the process for appointing independent members to an Executive Board, chaired by the Permanent Secretary, and to other Boards across the Department. Analogous procedures to those outlined above will be adopted for all these appointments.

I see this as an unprecedented opportunity for the Department to benefit from fresh thinking. Candidates will be drawn from a wide range of fields and backgrounds. Their role will not be to represent any particular interest; rather we are looking for people to help us improve internal processes, service delivery and change management. They will not take decisions, but will have an important challenging and advisory role. I will announce the appointments during May.

In addition, we will shortly be advertising for the posts of Chief Economic Adviser and Director General, Science, Technology and Innovation. Both are Senior Civil Service appointments.


Rural Payments Agency

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will place a copy of the revised business case for the Rural Payments Agency in the Library. [24982]

Mr. Morley: I am arranging for a copy of the revised Business Case for the Rural Payments Agency to be placed in the Library of the House.

1 Feb 2002 : Column 616W

Mr. Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many mistakes were made in calculating farming subsidy claims in 2001 by (a) her Department and (b) applicants. [28364]

Mr. Morley: This information has not previously been collected. However the Rural Payments Agency, which has a target to pay 98.5 per cent. of all claims accurately, will be carrying out an analysis of its performance during the financial year ending 31 March 2002 using statistical sampling techniques. The results, which will not be available until mid 2002 will be published in the RPA Annual Report.


Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made in the review of the UK's protected zone status for rhizomania; and if she will make a statement. [27724]

Mr. Morley: The period for the consultation on the future of the protected zone has now finished and on the basis of replies received and in consultation with officials in the devolved Administrations we have concluded that we should ask the Standing Committee on Plant Health to end rhizomania protected zone status in Great Britain.

Officials will discuss the implications of this change in status with industry representatives.

Responses to the consultation will be made available in the DEFRA library at 3–8 Whitehall Place, London, SW1 and a summary placed on the DEFRA website uk/.


Mr. Collins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish figures showing the volume of correspondence received by Ministers in her Department throughout 2001, indicating the target times set for replies and the number of replies sent within those target times. [28282]

Mr. Morley: Information on the volume of correspondence from Members of Parliament received by all ministerial agency chief executives, and Departments and agencies and performance in handling them is published annually by the Cabinet Office. The most recent report covering 2000, was announced by the then Minister for the Cabinet Office on 6 April 2001, Official Report, column 324–27W. The report on 2001 correspondence handling figures will be published within the next few months.

Waste Composting

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what plans she has to monitor emissions of methane from waste composting schemes; [29618]

1 Feb 2002 : Column 617W

Margaret Beckett: Composting is an aerobic biodegradation process which produces carbon dioxide, and appropriately managed processes will not emit methane. The Environment Agency is currently developing technical guidance on composting operations, which will inform their monitoring of these operations.

Methane can be obtained from the anaerobic digestion of biodegradable materials (usually in the form of a slurry) and has previously been employed to treat single stream biomass wastes, such as sewage sludge, with energy recovery. However, the indications are that the process is less effective for mixed wastes (such as the organic fraction of municipal solid waste) and is unlikely with the present state of development to be widely applicable to wastes.

The Department of Trade and Industry is undertaking a project to investigate the sustainability of using methane from waste in small turbines in CHP plants.

Next Section Index Home Page