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Coal Methane Electricity Generation

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the extent of the scope for new jobs from electricity generation from coal methane. [52367]

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Mr. Wilson: There are no Government estimates of the scope for jobs but the industry estimates that some 105 new permanent jobs will be created as a result of coal mine methane's exemption from the CCL as well as some 1,050 temporary jobs for the construction industry.

Postal Services

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will provide a breakdown by constituency of the percentage of people who live within one mile of a post office branch. [53031]

Mr. Alexander [holding answer 29 April 2002]: I am informed by Post Office Ltd. that the information is not available on a constituency basis. However, 94 per cent. of the UK population lives within one mile of a post office.

Post Offices

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post offices closed in the last financial year ending 31 March, broken down by (a) whether rural and urban and (b) constituency. [53066]

Mr. Alexander: I am informed by Post Office Ltd. that figures for the quarter ending March 2002 are not yet available. However, for the nine months April to December 2001 closures totalled 208 comprising 167 rural and 41 urban offices.

The information is not available on a constituency basis.

Business Statistics

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) sole traders, (b) partnerships and (c) limited companies are registered in (i) Dumfries and Galloway, (ii) Scotland and (iii) the UK. [52902]

Miss Melanie Johnson: We do not maintain statistics for sole traders or partnerships.

The details for (c) are as follows:


Research Councils

Mr. Mike Hall: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the outcome of the Second Stage of the Quinquennial Review of the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils will be announced; and what were the main recommendations associated with the implementation of a strategic ownership model. [53818]

Ms Hewitt: My noble Friend the Minister for Science and Innovation has today announced the outcome of the Second Stage of the Quinquennial Review of the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC).

The first stage of the review recommended that the second stage of the review should focus on the issues associated with the implementation of a strategic

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ownership model, to encourage collective ownership by the user research councils of CCLRC's large facilities, addressing in particular the implications for the status of CCLRC and its accountability to Ministers and Parliament.

The second stage of the review has been led by the chief executive of the CCLRC, Professor John Wood and conducted under the guidance an external review board chaired by Sir Peter Williams, and the Office of Science and Technology. The review has been conducted in accordance with the latest Cabinet Office guidance and Cabinet Office and Treasury officials have had an opportunity to comment on the draft report and its recommendations.

The principal recommendation is that for its core business the CCLRC should remain a non-departmental public body (NDPB) and a research council. In addition, CCLRC should be given a strategic role, as identified in stage one, to act as a national focus for large facilities for neutron scattering, synchrotron radiation and high power lasers on behalf of the research councils UK. Further, it should also co-ordinate the development for research councils UK of policies and strategies for the provision of access by UK scientists to leading edge large-scale facilities in these scientific areas, both nationally and internationally. The co-ordination and provision of strategic advice would be carried out separately from the day-to-day operation of CCLRC owned facilities.

There should be a common scheme for access to the large facilities for researchers sponsored by all the research councils. For those proposals that successfully undergo competitive peer review, there will be a "free at the point of access" arrangement.

CCLRC's funding arrangements should alter so that CCLRC receives direct funding from the Office of Science and Technology for providing, operating, maintaining, developing and upgrading its large facilities and their instrumentation. This would be on the basis that, a rolling medium term plan for the operational requirements of the large facilities be prepared by CCLRC and endorsed by research councils UK. This arrangement would ensure that the chief executive of CCLRC as accounting officer is clearly and visibly accountable for the value for money of all aspects of the delivery of science from these large facilities. In addition, there will be an external review of CCLRC's cost base and financial processes in advance of the changes to the funding arrangements.

I warmly welcome these recommendations and offer my thanks to Professor Wood and the review board.

Temporary Workers

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research she has conducted into the (a) social and (b) economic benefits of temporary work. [52301]

Alan Johnson: According to the Labour Force Survey, in Autumn 2001 28 per cent. of temporary employees do not want a permanent job and 39 per cent. chose temporary employment for other reasons. Therefore, for many individuals, temporary employment is a matter of positive choice that suits their current circumstances.

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The Labour Force Survey defines temporary employees as including individuals engaged on: employment business assignments, seasonal work, fixed term contracts, casual work and other non-permanent work.

The Department's officials are preparing a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) which will look at the possible costs and benefits of the Directive to workers, agencies and user companies in the UK. The RIA will be placed in the Libraries of House in due course.

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the timetable is for the introduction of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations. [52296]

Alan Johnson: I have no definite dates for the introduction of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations. However, following a short consultation exercise on certain aspects of these Regulations, we will lay the Regulations before Parliament. Subject to the approval of Parliament, the Regulations will take effect later in the year.

Mrs. Laing: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research she has commissioned into pay differentials between temporary and permanent workers. [52305]

Alan Johnson: No research has been commissioned specifically to examine the pay differentials between temporary and permanent workers. However, a study has been commissioned to identify the extent to which employers treat part-time and fixed term contract staff differently from full-time workers doing a comparable job. This includes a question about the comparable rate of pay. The report is currently being prepared for publication.

The study was carried out by BMRB International and is based on a sample survey of employers.

Budget (Effects on Cheltenham)

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what effect the budget of 17 April will have on business in Cheltenham. [52937]

Alan Johnson: I am pleased to support the Budget measures announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 17 April. The Budget contained a variety of measures designed to help business become more competitive and productive. These included a freeze on road tax and fuel duty, abolition of stamp duty relief for business transactions in poor areas, an extra £30 million for small firms training needs, direct cash help to small firms filing tax returns online, a capital gains tax cut, small companies starting rate cut to zero and small companies tax cut by 1p with immediate effect. More detail can be found on www.budget.treasury.gov.uk. Business Link Gloucestershire Ltd (tel 01452 509522) can also provide advice on the impact of the Budget on business activity.

Equal Opportunities

Linda Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the complexities referred to in Towards Equality and Diversity are that require age discrimination legislation to be introduced on a longer timetable than equivalent legislation on sexual orientation, religion

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or belief; what action will be taken before 2006 to tackle these complexities; and if she will make a statement. [53118]

Alan Johnson: Implementing the age strand of the Employment Framework Directive (2000–78) is a significant undertaking and we need to allow time to get it right. Unlike sexual orientation and religion, differences of treatment on the grounds of age are capable of objective justification under the Directive in certain circumstances. The Directive itself acknowledges that age is more complex than the other strands by allowing a longer time to implement—2006 instead of 2003.

There are significant practical issues to be worked through in consultation with employers, particularly small businesses and others that may be affected. We want to ensure we implement age legislation sensibly.

We have already undertaken widespread consultation to identify what age-related practices employers have and why they might need to retain them. Chapter 15 of the consultation document "Towards Equality and Diversity" identified and invited views on key age issues. These include arrangements for recruitment, selection and promotion, training, pay and non-pay benefits, redundancy and retirement.

We want to prohibit unfair practice so as to remove the barriers which people of all ages can face in the workplace. We do not want to ban employment practices which can be clearly and objectively justified. We will need to consider each of these areas in detail, and will consult again later this year with a set of firm proposals.

We made it clear in the consultation document that we needed to use the full timescale—to 2006—to prepare and introduce new legislation in age.

Linda Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry with whom she is consulting on the implementation of the European Community Employment and Race Directives; how the proposed draft regulations impact upon the policy responsibilities of Government Departments; and if she will make a statement. [53119]

Alan Johnson: The consultation document 'Towards Equality and Diversity' set out the government's proposals to implement the EC Employment and Race Directives. During the fifteen week consultation period, which closed at the end of March, more than 850 responses were received from a range of stakeholders including small businesses, large employers, the voluntary sector, unions, interest groups and individuals.

We are currently considering the responses, working closely with the Department for Work and Pensions, Home Office, Cabinet Office and Department for Education and Skills and all interested Government Departments. The results of the consultation, and more detailed proposals, including draft legislation to outlaw discrimination at work, will be published in the autumn.


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