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19 Sept 2002 : Column 165W—continued

Telephone Exchanges

Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which telephone exchanges in Somerset have been converted to DSL; and what plans there are to convert the remaining exchanges. [73258]

Stephen Timms: At the end of May 2002, ADSL was available to 66 per cent. of households in the UK. A map showing geographical availability of broadband services by one or more of ADSL, cable, wireless and satellite can be found in the UK Online Annual Report [–menu.htm].

We are working with the Broadband Stakeholder Group to help industry increase availability and take-up of broadband throughout the country. As part of this strategy, we have provided £30 million to the RDAs and DAs to help develop innovative solutions for extending networks into areas considered commercially unattractive.

We are acting to improve the business case for service providers in rural areas by examining how the public sector can most effectively procure its own broadband. On June 26, I announced my intention to establish a new Regional Broadband Unit. Its purpose will be to stimulate economic development and enhance the delivery of public services through extending broadband services at the regional and local level.

Telecommunications Masts

Phil Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many telecommunications masts in the United Kingdom there are; and what measures are taken by the Telecommunications Agency to ensure that these are mapped and recorded. [73368]

Stephen Timms: There are approximately 26,000 transmitter sites in the UK. The "Sitefinder" Mobile Phone Base Station Database at is a national database of mobile phone base stations and their emissions. The database is managed by the Radiocommunications Agency, an Executive Agency of the Department of Trade and Industry, on behalf of Government. The database provides information on all operational, externally sited, cellular radio transmitters in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The database is updated every three months from information provided by the cellular operators. It should be noted that only operational transmitters, i.e. those that are actually transmitting, are included on the database. Consequently, sites that are currently going through the planning process, are in the process of being built, or are yet to be switched on, will not be found on the database.

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Phil Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will establish a nationwide audit of telecommunications masts. [73371]

Stephen Timms: Last year the Rdiocommunications Agency completed an audit across the UK of 100 masts on school grounds. This year they are carrying out a further audit of masts near to schools and hospitals. Details of the audit and results for last year and those completed so far this year are available on the Agency's website at The audit results indicate in every case levels of radiation far below those specified in the guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection

Compulsory Purchase Orders

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many compulsory purchase orders each regional development agency is helping to promote; what the total gap funding is each has awarded; and what the total investment of each has been in direct development in each year since their formation. [73409]

Alan Johnson: Most RDAs do not promote their own Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs), and therefore there is no associated gap funding or investment, although this may change in the future. The exceptions are South of England Development Agency (SEEDA), London Development Agency (LDA) and North West Development Agency (NWDA).

For SEEDA, the number of CPOs is one (with no gap funding nor any investment in development yet).

For LDA, there are no CPOs yet (with no gap funding nor any investment in development), but two CPOs are being considered.

For NWDA, three CPOs have been made (total gap funding of £2.4 million and a total investment of £2.7 million over the years 1999 to 2002) and a further two CPOs are being considered.

Privatised Utilities

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations she has received from (a) the DTLR, (b) the SRA, (c) the Office of the Rail Regulator and (d) train operating companies with regard to the Government's policy towards the independence of the economic regulators of the privatised utilities. [62304]

Mr. Wilson: None.

Minimum Wage

Mr. Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many cases of employers breaking the minimum wage regulations were reported in the last two years. [73361]

Alan Johnson: The number of employers found not to be paying the minimum wage in the last two years is as follows:


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Mr. Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what plans she has to increase the level of penalties for employers who fail to comply with the minimum wage legislation; [73366]

Alan Johnson: The Inland Revenue enforces the national minimum wage on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry.

Under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, Inland Revenue compliance officers can issue penalty notices where businesses have failed to comply with an enforcement notice in respect of the minimum wage. Penalty notices impose a financial penalty equal to twice the hourly amount of the main minimum wage rate per worker, for each day of non-payment of the minimum wage from the date that the enforcement notice was issued. Each time the main minimum wage rate is increased, the level of penalties is therefore also increased. There is no upper limit on the penalty that can be imposed on an employer.

In the year ended 31 March 2002, sixty-five Penalty Notices were issued for a total of £95,804, giving an average penalty of £1,973.90. No separate information is held on the number of minimum wage cases where employees were found to be working beyond their contracted hours.

Part-Time Workers Directive

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the (a) one off administration costs and (b) ongoing recurring costs to May 2002 for the Part-Time Workers Directive were; and if she will make a statement. [73135]

Alan Johnson: The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 came into force on 1 July 2000, transposing the Part-time Work Directive into British law. Under the Regulatory Impact Assessment for the Regulations which the Government published at the time, total recurring costs were estimated to be £27.4 million per year. The one off administration costs were estimated to be negligible.

Employment Law

Mr. Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to review the resources available for employment rights enforcement. [73367]

Alan Johnson: In October 2001, along with the Lord Chancellor, the Secretary of State announced a joint Taskforce to make recommendations on how the Employment Tribunal system can be made more efficient and cost effective. Their terms of reference include advising on the need for new investment to meet any

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revised service objectives and performance measures. The Taskforce have just delivered their report, which the Secretary of State is publishing today. We are now considering their recommendations, including the resource implications.

In addition, on 11 July 2002 the Secretary of State also announced a review of the operation of the Employment Relations Act 1999. This will look at the operation of the law as regards the institutions which enforce employment rights in this area.

Mr. Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to increase penalties for breaches of employment law. [73365]

Alan Johnson: The Employment Act 2002 provides that employment tribunals must normally vary any award made under the main jurisdictions where there is a failure on the part of either party to complete a statutory dispute resolution procedure before a tribunal application is made. The Act also provides that penalties will be increased under the main jurisdictions if an employee's written statement of employment particulars is absent or deficient. These provisions will be implemented in due course.

Limits on various payments and employment tribunal awards are varied each year in line with any changes in the Retail Prices Index, in accordance with the provisions of the Employment Relations Act 1999. In line with our previous commitments, on 11 July 2002 the Secretary of State announced a review of the operation of this Act

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