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Press Releases

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many press releases were issued by her Department (a) between 1 May and 31 December 1997 and (b) in each year from 1998 to 2001 inclusive. [40039]

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Ms Hewitt: The DTI issued the following number of press releases in these years:

Number of press releases

(1) 1 May to 31 December

Press and Public Relations

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people were employed in a press or public relations function in her Department on 1 January in (a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999, (d) 2000, (e) 2001 and (f) 2002. [39945]

Ms Hewitt: The number of Press Officers was as follows:

Number of press officers
1 January 199720
1 January 199817
1 January 199924
1 January 200025
1 January 200123
1 January 200223

Waste Goods

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the effect of the waste electrical and electronic equipment directive on the illegal disposal of waste goods; and if she will make a statement. [38124]

Mr. Meacher: I have been asked to reply.

The directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is still in draft. We are currently at Common Position stage, and for this reason we have not yet made any such assessment.

The directive requires distributors to take back waste electrical goods free of charge to the end user. This take-back provision may be in-store, on delivery or through an alternative arrangement, eg kerbside collection. Furthermore, the directive requires members states to ensure that users are given necessary information about the return and collection systems available to them and about their role in contributing to re-use, recycling and other forms of recovery of WEEE.

We therefore believe that the directive will make a positive contribution to increasing the amount of waste electrical goods recovered and recycled and we see no reason to anticipate an increase in the illegal abandoning of WEEE in public places.


Equal Pay

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Minister for Women if she will make a statement on her policy towards gender pay

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inequalities in the context of paragraph 27 of the Laeken conclusions. [39633]

Ms Hewitt: In paragraph 27 of the Presidency Conclusions of the European Council meeting in Laeken on 14 and 15 December 2001, the Council noted with interest the list of indicators of gender pay inequalities. This Government are fully committed to reducing the gender pay gap and therefore support the indicators proposed in the Belgian Presidency's report.


Crown Prosecution Service

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General what research has been undertaken to address the observations made in Cm3960, summary of the report, paragraph 19, concerning the downgrading of crimes. [35960]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 14 February 2002]: Sir Iain Glidewell noted statistical evidence showing that charges are sometimes downgraded. He found no evidence that downgrading happens when it should not; but he recommended that the Inspectorate should examine cases of downgrading during inspections and research into the reasons why charges are downgraded.

Following publication of the report the CPS Inspectorate (which has subsequently become independent of the CPS, reporting directly to the Attorney-General), has regularly devoted a section of its biennial reports on all CPS areas to downgrading of charges and the application of common charging standards agreed between the police and the CPS. In his Annual Report for 1999–2000, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector noted that in some 22 per cent. of cases to which charging standards applied the police had selected inappropriate charges. In almost all cases, the inspectors agreed that the CPS had then applied the charging standards correctly, usually to downgrade but sometimes to upgrade the charge.

In the recently published "Review of the Criminal Courts of England and Wales", Sir Robin Auld refers to this research as part of the justification for recommending that the CPS should assume from the police a greater responsibility for determining the charges at the outset of criminal proceedings.


Climate Change Levy

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) in how many cases (a) Customs and Excise and (b) a bailiff has distrained possessions for failure to pay the climate change levy; what was the value of goods distrained; and if he will make a statement; [38576]

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Dawn Primarolo: No penalties have been imposed, possessions distrained or criminal proceedings commenced for failure to comply with the legal requirements governing climate change levy. This reflects our commitment to improve compliance through education rather than by penalising with enforcement action during the introduction of the levy.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment he has made of the impact of the climate change levy on the British plastics industry; [38589]

Dawn Primarolo: As part of the normal process of contact with business, the Chancellor and the Treasury ministerial team have met with a variety of business organisations and individual companies since 1 April last year, and have heard a variety of representations on tax, including climate change levy, and on other matters.

The levy package is expected to be broadly revenue-neutral for both industry and the service sector as a whole. However, the effect on any individual company or sector will depend on a number of factors, including their level of energy efficiency, use of renewables and CHP, and the extent to which they make investments which qualify for enhanced capital allowances.

The levy was developed in close consultation with business, and many of the proposals put forward during that consultation are reflected in the final design.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what representations he has made to the European Commission; and what evidence he has submitted to their investigation into the climate change levy dual fuel use exemption; [38610]

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Dawn Primarolo: The UK has presented a strong case backed by robust evidence to the European Commission in support of the climate change levy dual-use exemption. We continue to press the Commission strongly for an early and favourable decision in the matter.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he plans to extend liability for the climate change levy to (a) voluntary aided schools, (b) foundation schools and (c) city technology colleges. [38585]

Dawn Primarolo: Eligibility for exemption from the climate change levy (for fuel for domestic or non-business use by charities) mirrors eligibility for the reduced rate of VAT on fuel and power. Exemption from the levy for voluntary aided schools, foundation schools and city technology colleges therefore depends on their having charitable status. There are no plans to change this.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement setting out the Government's intentions concerning the relationship between enhanced capital allowances available for energy-saving technologies under the climate change levy and the enhanced capital allowances for tackling climate change and improving air quality which are proposed under the Green Technology Challenge. [38562]

Mr. Boateng: As part of the climate change levy package, the Government introduced a scheme of enhanced capital allowances (ECAs) for investments in qualifying energy-saving technologies. The Green Technology Challenge consultation revealed strong support for offering ECAs on a wider range of energy- saving technologies. As stated in PBR 2001 the Government propose to introduce further ECAs in this area and these will be incorporated into the existing ECA scheme.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment he has made of the impact on the British lime industry of his decision to withdraw the exemption from the climate change levy for fuel used in kilns; [38606]

Dawn Primarolo: Energy used in lime kilns is currently treated as being exempt from the levy. This concession has been agreed to last for a period of four years, and reflects a misunderstanding before the start of the tax that energy was being used for non-fuel purposes. When tax becomes chargeable, the fuel used in lime kilns will be eligible for 80 per cent. levy discounts.

The climate change levy only became operational in April 2001, so it is too early to assess its impact properly.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many applications for registration for the climate change levy have been received by Customs and Excise. [38581]

Dawn Primarolo: 269 climate change levy registration requests have been received by HM Customs and Excise.

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