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Customs and Excise

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he proposes to take in the light of the House of Lords decision Customs and Excise v. Plantiflor Ltd. [76299]

John Healey: I have been asked to reply.

The judgment of the House of Lords confirms the view of Customs and Excise that Plantiflor should account for VAT on delivery charges as part of the total price of the goods it supplies. On 20 August 2002 Customs and Excise issued business brief (number 23/2002) which gives full background details on the issue and provides guidance on action to be taken by all affected businesses. It is available in the Library of the House and can also be accessed from the Central Office of Information website at:

Doorstep Selling

Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the number of energy companies using doorstep selling to encourage people to switch companies; and what plans she has further to regulate doorstep selling. [77291]

Mr. Wilson: Doorstep sales are used in a number of markets, including gas and electricity supply. Since the introduction of domestic gas and electricity supply competition, such sales have been a useful way of bringing the benefits of competition, particularly access to lower prices, to the attention of customers. Consumers are protected under the Doorstep Selling Regulations, which were enhanced in 1998, and are enforced by local Trading Standards departments. At present, the Government have no plans to introduce further regulation. Gas and electricity consumers are further protected by specific regulations in supply licences, which are the responsibility of the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM). Where appropriate, OFGEM takes investigative and enforcement action against suppliers that breach these conditions.

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Energy Market Liberalisation

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress she has made on EU-wide discussions on liberalising energy markets; and if she will make a statement. [78214]

Mr. Wilson: We fully support the Commission's proposals for the liberalisation of the EU energy market. Council discussions on the dossier are at an advanced stage and the Danish Presidency hopes to reach political agreement at the November Energy Council. We will be negotiating constructively to ensure a satisfactory outcome.

European Working Time Directive

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what representations her Department has received on the forum considering the implementation of the European Directive on Working Time in the offshore oil and gas industry; [77336]

Alan Johnson: The Horizontal Amending Directive (HAD) (2000/34/EC) entitles workers in the offshore sector to the full provisions of the Working Time Directive (93/104/EC). The HAD was formally adopted on 1 August 2000 and is required to be implemented by 1 August 2003.

I have met with representatives of the offshore oil and gas industry, on 5 September, and have agreed to meet representatives of the Inter Union Offshore Oil Committee (IUOOC) to listen to their views on the implementation of the HAD to workers offshore.

A forum, comprising representatives from all sides of the sector and facilitated by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), was set up to assist employers and worker representatives to reach agreement over the implementation of the HAD in the offshore sector. The forum was unable to reach agreement on many issues and DTI officials continue to hold discussions and correspond with those from both sides of the industry.

Export Licences

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has had following the recent award of an export licence for F-16s to Israel; and if she will make a statement. [77055]

Nigel Griffiths: The Export Control Organisation has received representations regarding the grant of export licences for parts, sub-systems and components to the USA for incorporation into the F-16 aircraft from a number of different sources, including Members of

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Parliament, exporters and the general public. No UK export licences have been issued for the export of F-16 aircraft to Israel.

Gas Storage Facilities

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her answer of 21 October 2002, which local planning authorities have been contacted this year by her Department regarding new gas storage facilities; and what responses have been received. [77299]

Mr. Wilson: The two councils to which the Department has written this year are Cheshire County Council and Wyre Borough Council. I understand that Cheshire County Council refused planning permission for the proposed gas storage facility at Byley, and that the applicant has now taken this to appeal I also understand that a planning application has not yet been submitted in respect of the other project, at Fleetwood in Lancashire.

Iraq (Exports)

Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what goods on the Military List have recently been approved for export to Iraq. [76678]

Nigel Griffiths: For details of goods on the Military List that have been approved for export to Iraq between 1 January 2002 and 1 October 2002, I refer my hon. Friend to the reply from my right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr. Hain) to my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, North-West (Mr. Robinson) on 21 January 2002, Official Report, columns 578–79W, and to the replies from my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. MacShane) to my hon. Friends the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Mahmood) on 18 June 2002, Official Report, columns 296–97W, and the Member for Lancaster and Wyre (Mr. Dawson) on 16 October 2002, Official Report, column 833W.

Limited Companies

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many limited companies were incorporated between (a) 1 April and 30 June and (b) in the same quarter in 2001. [76298]

Miss Melanie Johnson: There were 64,838 companies registered from April to June in 2002, and 52,196 for the same period in 2001.


Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she will publish a review of the operation of NETA. [76398]

Mr. Wilson: Ofgem have published a review of the first year of NETA's operation. We are currently considering it

Nuclear Power Stations (Radiation Leaks)

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many radiation leaks there have been from each UK nuclear power station and nuclear reprocessing plant in each of the last 20 years. [77544]

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Mr. Wilson: The Quarterly Statements of Nuclear Incidents at Nuclear Installations include information on radioactive leaks of any significance.

The Statements are compiled by the Nuclear Safety Directorate of the Health and Safety Executive and have been sent to the House of Commons Library since 1977.

Petrol Retail Industry

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations she has received from independent petrol retailers to investigate competition in the petrol retail industry; and if she will make a statement. [75136]

Miss Melanie Johnson: My hon. Friend the Minister for Energy and Construction has received representations concerning competition issues in the petrol retailing industry during 2002. The Minister held a Downstream Oil Industry Forum in July to discuss in particular the issue of rural petrol stations. Representatives of all major oil companies and large independent supermarkets attended. A further meeting is planned for November, and it is his intention to maintain a regular dialogue through this forum in order to address issues of concern.

Regulations Summits

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the two regulations summits took place between the Small Business Service and business representative organisations; and if she will list the organisations that attended. [76835]

Nigel Griffiths: The summits between the SBS Regulation team and business representatives were held on 1 November 2001 and 27 February 2002.

Invitees for the seminars were: British Chambers of Commerce; Confederation of British Industry; Federation of Small Businesses; Forum of Private Business; Institute of Directors; Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales; and the Small Business Council

A subsequent DTI stakeholder seminar on regulation was held with a similar audience on 16 October 2002.

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