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Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on her policy on British science. [42868]

Ms Hewitt: Our policy is to ensure that we continue to maintain and develop a world class science and engineering base for the UK, and take steps to ensure that it makes the greatest possible contribution towards economic growth, productivity, sustainable development and improved quality of life.


Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on shipbuilding. [42860]

Ms Hewitt: My Department continues to work closely with the shipbuilding industry to assist it in its efforts to improve its international competitiveness, employment and training.

Nigel Devereux

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the responsibility has been of Mr. Nigel Devereux during his secondment to her Department; what policy formulation Mr. Nigel Devereux has been involved in; and if she will make a statement. [43687]

Ms Hewitt: Mr. Nigel Devereux has held the position of Head, Downstream Oil since May 2000 in which role he deals with issues relating to the refining and marketing of petroleum products, including the formulation of policy in these areas.

All secondments into the Department are undertaken within the principles of the Civil Service Commissioners' Recruitment Code and are subject to formal contractual arrangements covering detailed terms including issues of conflict of interest.


Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what regulations there are to ensure that retail products are labelled to indicate if animal experimentation had taken place in the production process. [43997]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 20 March 2002]: Animal testing is only carried out in the UK where it is necessary to ensure the health and safety of consumers i.e. before a new pharmaceutical product is placed on the market. Even in these cases some of the world's most stringent requirements for laboratory animal welfare and licensing must be fully complied with.

The UK does not test finished cosmetic products or their ingredients on animals and has not done so since 1998. The Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations 1996, which implement the European Cosmetics Directive have a voluntary measure which allows claims about animal testing to be made if a manufacturer so chooses. There are no other regulations on product labelling with regard to animal testing.

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Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to update labelling laws on animal testing to ensure consumers can make informed purchasing decisions. [43971]

Miss Melanie Johnson: I have no such plans.

Under the Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations 1996 manufacturers may refer to testing on animals in the labelling but any reference must state clearly whether the tests carried out involved the cosmetic product itself or its ingredients.

Government Technology Policy

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will set out the Government's policy on (a) nanotechnology, (b) biotechnology and (c) manufacturing industry; and if she will make a statement. [43579]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 19 March 2002]: (a) Nanotechnology—This Government recognises that nanotechnology has the potential to transform the UK industry base. We are focusing on strengthening the research base through new collaborative programme in our leading universities. Our current spend through the Research Councils on nanotechnology is worth over £30 million a year.

We are also encouraging industry to use this investment to underpin its own research. We particularly wish to see dynamic new firms being spun out from the research base through the use of the £100 million support for seed capital funds, entrepreneurship and incubation that we have made available to the universities and public sector research establishments.

(b) Biotechnology—The Government's policy on biotechnology is to maintain the UK as the leader in Europe in biotechnology by maximising the potential for commercial developments arising from the UK's excellence in the science base and promoting a supportive regulatory and fiscal environment in the EU and UK, such that the UK is seen as the best place in Europe for:

(c) Manufacturing—The Government's policy on manufacturing industry is to ensure its future competitiveness and productivity through the stable macro-economic environment we have established, together with our policies to encourage investment, to promote enterprise, innovation, and knowledge transfer, to raise skills, and to provide an effective and competitive framework.

Claims Direct

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement as to her Department's inquiries into the (a) flotation and (b) collapse of Claims Direct. [41166]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Department has powers to conduct confidential inquiries into companies and these are exercised when there is good reason to do so in the public interest. The Department does not comment on the

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affairs of companies that are or have been the subject of inquiries under the Companies Acts. However Claims Direct Plc issued a press notice on 23 July 2001 confirming that it was providing information to the DTI under Section 447 of the Companies Act 1985.

The Department does not know of any reason to suggest Claims Direct Plc has "collapsed".

Export Licensing

Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what account she takes of sustainable development issues in export licensing. [42861]

Nigel Griffiths: All relevant export licence applications are considered on a case by case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. This includes the compatibility of the arms exports with the technical and economic capacity of the recipient country, taking into account the desirability that states should achieve their legitimate needs of security and defence with the least diversion for armaments of human and economic resources.

Unsolicited Faxes

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research she has undertaken on systems which allow people to opt out of receiving unsolicited faxes; and if she will make a statement. [42856]

Miss Melanie Johnson: We consulted widely about this when we were considering how to implement the Telecommunications Data Protection and Privacy Directive in 1999.

No-one may send an unsolicited fax for direct marketing purposes to an individual subscriber without the subscriber's prior consent. Nor may anyone send such a fax to corporate subscribers if they have registered with the Fax Preference Service, or if they have told the direct marketer not to send them any further faxes. These regulations are enforced by the information commissioner.

EC State Aid Rules

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) which schemes submitted to Advantage West Midlands in the last 12 months have been ruled ineligible as a result of EC state aid rules; [43487]

Alan Johnson: No projects have been ruled ineligible on state aid grounds alone. Some have given rise to state aid concerns which require them either to be amended so that they do not constitute aid or so that they fell within the block exemption regulations. Other schemes, or their UK funding streams, may need to be or are being notified to the commission so that their compatibility with the EC treaty can be determined. I have received representations from Members of Parliament and businesses about the state aid rules. It is important that the rules are respected but also that they should not inhibit unnecessarily regeneration of urban centres.

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Ministerial Duties

32. Michael Fabricant: To ask the Minister what proportion of her time she spends in each week on matters relating exclusively to women; and if she will make a statement. [42885]

Ms Hewitt: My roles as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Minister for Women are inextricably linked, since women are almost half the workforce, account for a third of new business start-ups and make the majority of decisions as consumers. As Minister for Women I concentrate on issues of work: life balance, narrowing the gender pay gap and women's entrepreneurship, working closely with my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office.

Science and Engineering

33. Tony Cunningham: To ask the Minister what steps she is taking to encourage women to take up careers in science and engineering. [42886]

Ms Hewitt: We are raising awareness of the opportunities for women through promotional material such as SPARK magazine, ambassador and role model campaigns and by encouraging girls to try for themselves science, engineering and IT in several ways: computer clubs, the WISE Campaign Outlook programme and endorsing the "take our daughters to work" day on 25 April. We are also looking at DTI schemes to ensure that they do not inadvertently exclude women who want to return to science and engineering careers.

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