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Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the outcome was of the Internal Market, Consumer and Tourism Council on 21 May; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if she will make a statement. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: Council conclusions were agreed on the Community Patent stating that the Presidency package is the basis for further work but that nothing is finally agreed until there is agreement on the whole package and that further work is needed on jurisdiction in particular. There was political agreement on the Public Procurement Directive and on the European Co-operative Society Statute.
Resolutions were agreed on the Future of European Tourism and supporting the Commission's approach to better regulation. There was political agreement on the substance of the Customs 2007 programme, to continue and enhance customs co-operation, although the UK and two other member states maintained reservations on the legal base.
There was a policy debate on the draft sales promotion regulation and Commission briefings on consumers and the euro, the follow-up to the Green Paper on EU Consumer Protection, services of general economic interest and on the proposal for a consolidated directive on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications. The Commission presented its recently adopted Consumer Policy Strategy 200206 and there was a Presidency presentation on the fourth European Consumers' Day in Madrid. There was a short discussion on the 2002 Review of the Internal Market Strategy, the Single Market Scoreboard and the Joint Work Programme of the Three Presidencies and a Presidency briefing on the proposal for a regulation on Food Hygiene.
Under Any Other Business the Commission urged member states to accept the European Parliament's broad endorsement of the Council's common position on the Distance Marketing of Financial Services Directive.
The UK voted in favour of the two legislative items the public procurement directive and the European Co-operative Society Statute. Conclusions were adopted on the Community Patent with the UK in favour. The Resolutions on Tourism and Better Regulation were agreed also with the UK in favour. The UK voted against political agreement on the Customs 2007 item, due to the proposed legal base.
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creditors can claim a fixed sum of compensation to cover debt recovery costs if they have to chase up late payment;
all businesses and public sector bodies can challenge contractual terms that do not provide a substantial remedy for late payment;
SMEs are provided with the right to have appropriate organisations and a trade association act on their behalf and to challenge unfair contractual terms that try to remove or alter their right to statutory interest; and
a simple reference rate will be created which will be set for six months and used to determine the late payment interest rate. (The late payment interest rate is the reference rate plus 8 per cent.) This will make it easier for firms to calculate the interest they may be owed.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to the answer given by the Foreign Secretary on 21 May 2002, Official Report, column 255W, on meetings with embassy staff, what the commercial benefit to the United Kingdom was of the Lakshmi Mittal Romanian steel contract. 
Ms Hewitt: I refer the right hon. Member to the answers given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the hon. Member for East Carmarthen and Dinefwr (Adam Price) and the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner) on 14 February 2002, Official Report, columns 61012W.
47. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, when the most recent assessment was made of the (a) present and (b) future child care needs of people who work in the Palace of Westminster. 
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, if all House of Commons catering and cleaning staff (a) are included in the House-wide annual performance appraisal process and (b) have personal development plans that are regularly reviewed and updated. 
Mr. Kirkwood: All the Departments of the House have achieved recognition as Investors in People; this process has involved ensuring that the appraisal systems are operating effectively, and that personal development is given due attention.
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operates two separate appraisal schemes developed to meet the specific needs of its catering staff. All catering staff have personal development plans which are reviewed and updated regularly. In addition, the department last year became an approved centre with the Hospitality Awarding Body to register and certificate its own National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs). So far, three staff of the Department have been trained as NVQ Internal Verifiers and a further 12 staff are qualified NVQ Assessors. Last year over 50 staff of the Refreshment Department achieved nationally recognised trainer qualifications.
All House cleaning staff are included in the House-wide annual performance appraisal process. They have annual personal objectives, which are agreed with line managers and are regularly reviewed. Their training and development needs are identified and updated through that process.
Mr. Robin Cook: We have received one communication from Charter 88 about the setting up of the Joint Committee which the two Houses are in the process of establishing. I would expect any representations about the substance of reform now to be made to the Joint Committee.
50. Julie Morgan: To ask the President of the Council what proposals he plans to put to the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons relating to making proceedings in the House more accessible to visually disabled people. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons has a full programme, but I am sure my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will be interested in proposals from any hon. Members. The House of Commons Commission may also have an interest.
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52. Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the President of the Council if he will introduce legislation providing for parity of treatment between Members of both Houses in relation to disqualification following imprisonment consequent upon criminal conviction. 
Mr. Bradshaw: In their proposals on House of Lords reform, the Government consulted on possible changes to the rules which would enable those members of the House of Lords who had been sentenced to particular terms of imprisonment to be expelled from the House. House of Lords reform will now be looked at by a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament. It would be premature for the Government to introduce any measures in advance of that Joint Committee reporting.
53. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Council when the House of Lords Appointments Commission is to embark on its proposed road shows to encourage applications from putative people's peers. 
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