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4 Nov 2002 : Column 148W—continued

General Agreement on Trade in Services

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what discussions she has had with the Scottish Executive on the impact of GATS on health services in Scotland; [76658]

Ms Hewitt: Public services (i.e. services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority) such as in health and education are excluded from the GATS. The GATS defines these as services supplied neither on a commercial basis nor in competition with other service suppliers. For services within the scope of the GATS (that is, those supplied by the private sector), countries can choose in which sectors to make, or not make, commitments and any limitations or conditions they wish to impose.

The United Kingdom has already made GATS commitments, allowing foreign companies to provide private services in the UK in the health and education area. The Government have made clear to the House in the past that we will not make further commitments that could call into question our continued ability to maintain public health and education services.

My Department has recently issued a consultation document inviting views on requests for liberalisation of services that we have received in the current round of GATS negotiations. The document was drawn up in close co-operation with the Departments of Health, and Education and Skills, with input from the Scottish Executive and other devolved Administrations. Comments are requested by 3 January 2003. My noble Friend the Minister for Trade and Investment has written to all Members drawing attention to this consultation. The document is available on the DTI

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website www.dti and printed copies are being placed in the Libraries of the House.

DTI and DFES officials are in close contact with universities and higher education institutions and the Scottish Executive is also keeping in touch with Universities Scotland on issues related to GATS.

Government Expenditure

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much of the Government funding of #35.1 million over four years in the 1998–99 publication Trade and Industry, The Government's Expenditure Plans, Sectoral Activities section 1.2 has been (a) allocated and (b) spent; which projects received funding, with the amount allocated per project; which projects were refused funding; and if she will make a statement. [77903]

Ms Hewitt: In May 1997, the Government allocated #35.1 million to the 186 winning bids which resulted from the sector challenge initiative. The budget was derived from both DTI's own funds and contributions from other Government Departments. The winning projects were recommended for support by an independent assessment panel and represented #109.5 million in total budget costs.

The winning bids were judged by their respective bidders to be focused on:

People/skills issues65
Improving access to markets64
The better exploitation of technology55
Improving access to finance11
Representation at trade fairs4

To reduce the burden on business, the competition was divided into an outline and a full proposal stage. Some 605 outlines were received by the deadline of 13 November 1996. These were judged by an independent assessment panel against the criteria of impact, strategic fit, relevance, quality of content, partnership, value for money, additionality, financial viability and credibility.

340 bids were encouraged to proceed to the full bid stage and 307 full bids were received. From these, the 186 winners were selected.

Information Society Technologies Programme

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made by the Information Society Technologies programme; what costs have been incurred since its start up broken down by financial year; what the budget allocated was in each financial year; when the programme is due to finish; and if she will make a statement. [78108]

Mr. Timms: The Information Society Technologies programme within the EU's Fifth Framework Programme (FP5)—which finished in June 2002—was allocated a budget of Euro3.6 billion for the period 1998–2002. This budget, for the purpose of encouraging innovative research, development and demonstration projects in the 1ST area, has now been exhausted and

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UK companies, in competition with all other member and associated states, have won over #300 million of financial support (around 14 per cent. of the total disbursed) thereby meeting the target set in the 1998 Competitiveness White Paper to stimulate 'strong UK participation in the EU's Framework programmes'.

The indicative budget allocations for each year of FP5 were:

Euro billion

During the lifetime of the Fifth Framework Programme DTI funded the UK/SHELP service to provide a website, helpline, national contact point, literature and programme of promotional events to help UK organisations make successful applications for funding support. The annual cost of providing this service was:

November 1998 to March 2000705
April 2000 to March 2001511
April 2001 to March 2002539
April 2002 to March 2003441


Figures include VAT.

The EU will be launching the Sixth Framework Programme in November 2002. IST will again have a budget of 3.6 billion to cover the period 2002–06. DTI officials are currently considering how best to support UK organisations hoping to access this budget beyond March 2003.

DTI is ensuring that UK organisations have early access to all available information about the development of the FP6—by posting information on the UK/SHELP website (, holding information events and undertaking a programme of awareness-raising company visits.

The Libraries of the House have copies of recently written case studies about successful projects in the IST area, funded under previous European programmes, which demonstrate the potential gains ('European Programme Funding—Case Studies in Information Society Technologies').


Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the level of (a) exports to and (b) imports from Iran was in 2001–02; and what steps she is taking to expand this trade. [78306]

Ms Hewitt: UK exports of goods to Iran in 2001 were worth #432 million while imports from Iran were worth #28 million. In the eight-month period from January to August 2002 UK exports of goods amounted to #283 million. UK imports were #26 million.

UK exports of services to Iran in 2001 totalled #126 million, imports from Iran were worth #31 million.

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Trade Partners UK, including the commercial team at the embassy in Tehran, offers a strong package of support for British companies wishing to do business with Iran. In addition to providing up to date information on market conditions, they support a programme of trade missions to the market, help British groups attend key trade fairs, organise inward missions and provide targeted assistance to UK companies in key sectors.

Iron and Steel Employees Benefits Scheme

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much was spent on the Iron and Steel Employees Re-adaptation Benefits Scheme in (a) 1998–99, (b) 1999–00 and (c) 2002–01; what the budget is for 2001–02; and if she will make a statement. [78290]

Alan Johnson: The current Iron and Steel Employees Re-adaptation Scheme (ISERBS) was introduced in May 2001 and the following amounts have been paid to eligible redundant steel industry workers:

2001 to 200220,182,240
2002 to2003(28)8,637,920

(28) by 12 November

of which approximately 45 per cent will be recouped from the European Commission The Government will continue to make ISERBS payments to eligible individuals as necessary.

Payments relating to the earlier ISERBS scheme, terminated in 1994, but under which there was residual commitment to pay a small number of individuals who attained entitlement in 1994 but whose redundancy was delayed, were as follows:

1998 to 1999193,689
1990 to 2000103,713
2000 to 2001NIL

Ironbridge Power Station

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions she has had with PowerGen over the future of coal-fired power stations in England, with particular reference to Ironbridge Power Station. [78753]

Mr. Wilson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary for Trade and Industry has not had any recent discussions with Powergen about the future of Ironbridge or other coal fired powered power stations in England.

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