Previous Section Index Home Page

Departmental Functions

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the functions of her Department that have been (a) market tested and (b) out-sourced in each of the last five years, specifying the (i) money saving and (ii) percentage saving in each case. [42986]

Ms Hewitt: No departmental functions were market tested and out-sourced during the last five years.

However, in that period, a number of contracts let as a result of previous market tests have been re-tendered.

Research Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the outcome was of the Research Council held in Brussels on 11 March; what the Government's stance was on each issue discussed, including its voting record; and if she will make a statement. [43216]

Ms Hewitt: The Research Council of 11 March 2002:

18 Mar 2002 : Column 85W

Transmission Grid

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the scope is of the new study into the transmission grid between Scotland and the rest of the UK; when it will report; and if its conclusions will form part of the Energy White Paper. [43047]

Mr. Wilson: I shall shortly be meeting representatives of the three UK transmission asset owners (The National Grid Company, Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern) as well as the Scottish Executive and Ofgem in order to discuss these issues. My expectation is that work will be taken forward quickly and that it will inform the Energy White Paper.

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her policy is on building a meshed grid following the publication of the concept study on the Western Offshore Transmission Grid. [43049]

Mr. Wilson: The recently published PB POWER report endorsed the option of an offshore hvdc link either as means of the bulk transfer of renewable energy to a suitable point on the existing transmission system, or as a means of addressing existing transmission constraints.

The report also recommended that a more detailed investigation of the feasibility of such a link should be part of a more general review of transmission system needs. My Department is considering the best way to take this work forward in conjunction with the UK transmission asset owners (National Grid Company, Scottish Power and Scottish & Southern).

UK Compensation Monitoring Group

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on her recent meeting with the UK compensation monitoring group. [43050]

Mr. Wilson: I met the Ministerial Monitoring Group on 6 March. The main points covered were the significant increases since October 2001 in numbers of full and final offers made in relation to respiratory disease. It was also noted that the Department is working closely with the Claimants' Solicitors to ensure that offers are being translated quickly into settlements. The issue of ensuring priority for oldest and sickest claimants was discussed.

In relation to VWF, the cut-off date of 31 October for the scheme was noted, following an announcement by the Department earlier that week. I emphasised that this message should be circulated as widely as possible.

Perkins, Shrewsbury

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the assistance available through Advantage West Midlands to mitigate the effect of the 500 redundancies at Perkins in Shrewsbury. [43528]

Alan Johnson: The situation at Perkins is, potentially, very damaging for the company, its employees, Shrewsbury and the surrounding area, and the Government

18 Mar 2002 : Column 86W

are treating it with the seriousness it deserves. As the hon. Member knows, I met with representatives of management and unions from the company on Monday March 11, to explore ways of mitigating the effects of any redundancies.

Perkins are now looking at ways of saving some jobs on the site and extending production beyond the end of 2002. For the time being, the number and type of jobs that will be lost is not clear. The type of activity the company hopes to continue and the type of support they will request is also not clear.

For that reason it is currently not possible to say what support can be offered to Perkins through Advantage West Midlands, or through other Government funded agencies in the locality.

However, a task force has been convened to look at the implications for the area and to offer as much coordinated advice and help as possible. Management and unions from the site are members, and the Government are represented through the Government Office for the West Midlands. Advantage West Midlands is a key member and other members include both Local Authorities covering the area, the Employment Service, the SBS and the local Learning and Skills Council. A key function of the task group, set out in their terms of reference, is to identify all the potential sources of funding available and to develop a coordinated response to the needs of the company, the town and the surrounding areas.

Quality Mark

Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many inquiries have been made to the construction Quality Mark register telephone line since its launch; and how many hits have been made on the Quality Mark website since its launch; [43614]

Mr. Wilson: I refer my hon. Friend to my answer on 12 March 2002, Official Report, column 891W. 154 companies have now achieved the Quality Mark.


Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the outcome of the last TRIPS Council meeting on 5 March. [43533]

Ms Hewitt: The TRIPS Council began work on the issues remitted to it at the Doha WTO Ministerial Conference in November last year. These include TRIPS and its relationship with public health, patentability of

18 Mar 2002 : Column 87W

plants and animals, biodiversity, traditional knowledge, a review of the TRIPS Agreement and incentives for transfer of technology.

The TRIPS Council also began work on a multilateral registration system for geographical indications for wines and spirits for completion by the Fifth Ministerial Conference in 2003, as required by Ministers at Doha.

Employment Legislation

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures she proposes to take to reduce the administrative demands on employers of UK and EU employment legislation. [43625]

Alan Johnson: The Government want the UK to be the best place in the world to do business. To help achieve this we will eliminate unnecessary regulation and minimise the burdens imposed by regulation that is necessary. We have significantly strengthened the systems that control the regulatory burden. The Government have established the Better Regulation Task Force and the Ministerial Panel for Regulatory Accountability, appointed Ministers for Regulatory Reform in the main regulating Departments, and set up the Small Business Service to ensure that regulations do not impose unnecessary burdens.

In February we published the Regulatory Reform Action Plan—setting out proposals for better regulation and reform across Whitehall, local government and health authorities. The plan brings together in one document over 250 proposals for change—some already announced, some entirely new proposals—representing snapshot of reform plans at start of 2002. These will benefit businesses, charities and the voluntary sector. It represents a good beginning, but Government will continue working to identify and bring forward proposals to reduce the overall regulatory burden.

The Government are working to ensure that similar disciplines and procedures are in place at European Union level. In particular we want to see an early and full implementation by the commission of the recommendations of the Mandelkern Report on Better Regulation. This report was produced by a high level group of experts from all 15 EU member states and makes recommendations on alternatives to regulation, impact assessment, consultation, simplification, access to regulation, structures and implementation.

The Government are encouraging the European Commission, European Parliament and other member states to implement these recommendations. We look forward to the Commission's Action Plan for Better Regulation, which will be presented to the Seville European Council in June, being based on the Mandelkern report.

Next Section Index Home Page