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Parliamentary Advisers

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) names and (b) responsibilities are of parliamentary advisers appointed to serve his Department. [56984]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 22 May 2002]: Ministers in this Department have made no such appointments.

European Security and Defence Policy

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the dispute between Greece and Turkey concerning the relations between ESDP and NATO has been resolved; and if he will make a statement. [57635]

Mr. Straw: I have been asked to reply.

Contacts continue between the EU and NATO, and between their members, to finalise the arrangements linking the two organisations.


Committee Mandates

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the mandate of the Committee for the application of the regulation authorising voluntary participation by undertakings in the industrial sector in eco-Community the co-management and audit scheme (EMAS) is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if she will list the items currently under its consideration; if she will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if she will make a statement. [56725]

Mr. Meacher: I have been asked to reply.

Regulation (EEC) No. 1836/93, allowing voluntary participation by companies in the industrial sector in a Community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS), was revised by Regulation (EC) No. 761/2001, with the

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effect that participation in EMAS is now open to organisations in all economic sectors. The aim of the scheme is to promote the continual improvement of environmental performance in organisations through them establishing an environmental management system and publishing an environmental report, both of which have to be independently verified. Registered organisations are entitled to use the EMAS logo to advertise their participation in the scheme. A committee composed of representatives of member states and chaired by the commission has been established to assist the commission in the implementation and operation of the scheme.

The Committee has met three times in the last 12 months. The UK is formally represented by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The cost of attending the committee over the last 12 months was approximately £4,000. The main issues currently under consideration by the committee are the relationship of EMAS with the implementation and enforcement of environmental legislation; the development of marketing and promotional initiatives to increase participation in the scheme; the use of EMAS in other Community policies and instruments; and the potential for wider use of the EMAS logo in applications like product information.


Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she will answer the letters dated 14 November 2001 from the hon. Member for Canterbury regarding Pipeflex Limited-funding. [57784]

Mr. Wilson: I wrote to the hon. Member on 23 May 2002.

Export Credits

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what her policy is towards the offer of export credits for the support of offset in defence deals arrangements; [57519]

Ms Hewitt [holding answers 21 May 2002]: Offset related to UK defence exports would normally take the form of investments in, or arranging exports from, the buyer's country.

ECGD support would need to be considered on a case-by-case basis, and is most likely to take the form of political risk insurance to UK companies seeking to make overseas investments in connection with offset arrangements. Limited support might also be available for goods exported from a buyer's country, but the rules are complex and it is not possible to generalise.

Post Offices

Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to improve the management of the post office network. [59804]

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Ms Hewitt: A new chairman will be recruited to lead the board of Post Office Ltd. (the Consignia subsidiary which operates the network) and to work with the recently appointed chief executive, David Mills, in the development and implementation of a new vision and strategy for the business.

Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Rights

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to consult on draft regulations in respect of new maternity, paternity and adoption rights. [59803]

Alan Johnson: My Department is today publishing a consultation document on these new rights, highlighting a limited number of outstanding issues on which we are seeking comments. We are also making draft regulations available on the internet. The consultation document and regulations are available at htm, and comments are sought by 19 July 2002. Copies have also been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Regional Development Agencies

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage of regional development agency boards are made up by (a) business representatives, (b) councillors, (c) trade union members, (d) voluntary organisation representatives and (e) others. [58387]

Alan Johnson: The regional development agency (RDA) boards currently have the following backgrounds: (a) business 49 per cent., (b) local authority 26 per cent., (c) trade unions 7 per cent., (d) voluntary/community sectors 6 per cent. and (e) others 12 per cent. There are two vacant posts. These figures have been derived based on the primary experience of each board member. Many board members have expertise in more than one area of relevance to the work of the RDAs. These figures do not include London Development Agency (LDA) board members, as the LDA is the responsibility of the Greater London Authority.

Redundant Oil Installations

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what arrangements are in place to ensure that redundant oil installations from the North sea are properly disposed of onshore. [58346]

Mr. Wilson: The Oslo and Paris convention of 1992 (OSPAR) provides for the protection of the marine environment of the north-east Atlantic. Under the convention the UK has adopted OSPAR Decision 98/3 which provides a regime for the decommissioning of oil and gas installations and effectively prohibits sea disposal. There is a presumption that installations on the UK continental shelf will be brought back to shore for reuse, recycling or final disposal on land. However, the OSPAR Decision recognises that there may be difficulty in removing the "footings" of large steel jackets weighing more than 10,000 tonnes and in removing concrete installations. As a result derogations may be granted in these cases if the internationally agreed assessment and consultation process shows that leaving such installations wholly or partly in place is justifiable. If a derogation is granted, the permit will specify who will be liable for the

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remains and require suitable monitoring and management measures to prevent or mitigate any adverse consequences to both the environment and other users of the sea.

In the UK, to ensure the orderly decommissioning of all installations, including those subject to derogation from the OSPAR decision, the decommissioning of each installation is addressed within a decommissioning programme. The programme assesses the potential decommissioning solutions and determines the most appropriate disposal option by balancing safety, the environment, impact on other users of the sea, technical feasibility and economics. The programme must be approved by the Secretary of State under the Petroleum Act 1998.

Coal Industry Pensions

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the cost is of the Government's guarantees associated with the report of the asset liability study carried out by the Mineworkers Pension Scheme and the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme as a percentage of the surpluses over the next 30 years for each scheme. [57824]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 22 May 2002]: The findings of the asset liability studies commissioned by the trustees of the two former British Coal pension schemes remain confidential to the trustees and the Government.

On 17 January the Government and the schemes' trustees made a joint statement agreeing a review of the arrangements for the Government's guarantee of basic retirement benefits for the members of the schemes. It was agreed that the review should explore how changes in circumstances since 1994, when British Coal was privatised, might best be reflected in revisions to the guarantee arrangements which would benefit members. In doing so, the trustees and the Government recognised that any revisions will need to be based on an equitable sharing of risk and reward between the schemes and the Exchequer, and will need to be sufficiently robust to operate satisfactorily in a wide range of conditions.

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