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Nuclear Industry (Special Advisers)

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many special advisers in her Department (a) have had experience of the nuclear industry and (b) of advising the nuclear industry. [69399]

Ms Hewitt: No special adviser in the department has, or ever has had, a commercial relationship with a company in the nuclear industry. However they have experience of working with representatives of the nuclear industry and will consult with them from time to time as part of their current job, just as they consult routinely with other companies, organisations and interest groups.

Ministerial Visits (Wales)

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the (a) date, (b) location and (c) purpose was of visits by Ministers in her Department to Wales since 1997; and when she next intends to visit Wales. [62071]

Ms Hewitt: Since 1999 this Government have published an annual list of all visits undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. This Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Information in respect of UK travel is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

All travel is undertaken fully in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

DTI Ministers have plans to undertake engagements in Wales before the end of the year.

EU Committees

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the EU Committee on Projects of Common Interest in the Field of trans-European Telecommunications Networks (TEN-telecom) is next due to meet; whether representatives of the Scottish Executive (a) have been and (b) are members of it; and if she will make a statement. [68572]

Ms Hewitt: The Committee on the trans-European telecommunications networks (TEN-Telecom) pro- gramme is next due to meet on 29 October 2002. One

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official from the Department of Trade and Industry normally represents all of the UK. Officials from the devolved Administrations are consulted as appropriate.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many oral questions she has transferred to other departments in each of the last 18 months. [67048]

Ms Hewitt: The information is as follows:

January 20010
November (2 oral sessions)8
January 20022

World Trade Organisation

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the Government's negotiating position with regard to (a) TRIPS and (b) GATS with the WTO framework. [66867]

Ms Hewitt: On TRIPS, we are strong advocates of the need to find a solution by the end of 2002 to the problem of the difficulties which some WTO Members could face in making effective use of compulsory licensing under the TRIPS Agreement as a result of having insufficient or no manufacturing capacities in the pharmaceutical sector.

Beyond that, we support continued discussions in the TRIPS Council on the relationship between TRIPS and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and how TRIPS and the CBD can be implemented in a mutually supportive manner.

We also support the EC position in the TRIPS Council on considering the possible extension of protection for Geographical Indications.

On GATS, the Government strongly support the current negotiations. The UK is the second largest exporter of services in the world. Our aim is to achieve further steps in the progressive liberalisation of trade in services, which we believe will have a positive impact not only on our own economic interests but also on the development of developing countries. That said, the EC has made clear in its liberalisation requests that it is not seeking the dismantling of public services nor the privatisation of state owned companies. Under GATS, countries cannot be forced to privatise services where it is not in their interest to do so.

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Business Regulation

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses by introducing regulations that would lapse after a certain time period. [69077]

Nigel Griffiths: The Government's policy is always to consider whether sunset clauses ought to be included in legislation it brings forward.

These are appropriate particularly where technology in a given sector is changing rapidly, where a given piece of legislation deals with a situation which is itself expected to last only for a given period of time (e.g., a road closure), or where an issue is so sensitive that it is considered appropriate that it should be regularly debated and reviewed.


Church Commission Properties

Ms Buck: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, how many Church Commission properties are let on assured shorthold tenancies; and how many tenants holding assured shorthold tenancies have not had these renewed on request in the last three years. [68246]

Mr. Bell: The Church Commissioners have 781 Assured Shorthold Tenancies. No records are kept as to how many tenants do not have their tenancies renewed upon request but it is estimated that there have been approximately 25 such cases in the last three years.


Asylum Seekers

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average time has been between initial decisions in asylum cases and the hearing of appeals arising from them in the last 12 months. [68637]

Beverley Hughes: The requested information is not available and could only be obtained by examination of individual cases files thereby incurring a disproportionate cost.

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers from Zimbabwe have been turned back at point of entry since 15 January. [49967]

Beverley Hughes: The Government are committed to ensuring that this country adheres to its obligations under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and that those who are fleeing persecution are given the protection they need. It is not Home Office policy to turn asylum seekers back at ports of entry to the United Kingdom at any time before their claims are fully considered, unless there is an alternative safe country which should be responsible for considering the claim.

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On 15 January 2002, we announced a temporary suspension of returns of unsuccessful asylum applicants to Zimbabwe. We will resume returns only when we are satisfied that it is safe to do so. We are monitoring events in the aftermath of the Zimbabwe presidential election before making a decision on the resumption of returns.

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average time taken was from first application to initial decison in asylum cases in each of the last six months. [68647]

Beverley Hughes: The data requested are given in the table.

Average time from date of application to initial decision for initial decisions made between October 2001 and March 2002(3),(4),(5),(6)

Month of initial decisionAverage time (months) to initial decision
October 200112
November 200111
December 20018
January 20028
February 20027
March 20027

(3) Excluding dependants.

(4) Figures are estimates based on cases for which information is recorded.

(5) The average length of time (in months) is calculated from date application is lodged to the date of initial decision, and relates to the month in which the decisions were made.

(6) Provisional data. These data are still subject to revision following quality checking.

The corresponding figure for April 1997 was 20 months.

The latest provisional data indicate that 53 per cent. of applications

(7) received in the period April to December 2001, inclusive, had initial decisions reached and served within two months

(8). The data are subject to revision following the results of further data cleansing. Data for 2001–2002 will be published on the Home Office RDS website on 30 August, subject to data quality.

(9) The Immigration and Nationality Directorate's (IND's) target for 2001–02 is to reach and serve initial decisions on 60 per cent of applications. These exclude 3rd country cases which may be the responsibility of other European Union member states under the terms of the Dublin Convention,. Details of government targets relating to the proportion of decisions served within two months are provided in the 2000 Spending Review Public Service Agreements White Paper available from

(10) "Two months" is defined as 61 days.

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