TRADE AND INDUSTRY COMMITTEE
Memorandum to the Liaison Committee
1. We welcome the opportunity to put on record
our work and that of our predecessors during 2001, and to give
some indication of our approach to our role both in the immediate
term and over the course of this Parliament.
Work of the previous Committee
2. We felt that it would be inappropriate to
comment in detail on the work of the previous Committee, but we
wish to record the inquiries that they undertook. After their
Report on The work of the Committee in the 1997 Parliament,
our predecessors published the following reports:
- The Department of Trade and Industry: Role, Objectives
- Vehicle Manufacturing in the UK;
- Impact on Trade and Industry of Motor Fuel Taxation;
- Local Loop Unbundling;
- UK Online reviewed: the First Annual report of
the E-Minister and E-Envoy;
- Mobile Phone Masts;
- Industrial and Trade Relations with Turkey;
- Enterprise Policy in the Regions; and
- Ilisu Dam.
They also published two Reports (on Strategic
Export Controls: Annual report for 1999 and parliamentary prior
scrutiny and the Draft Export Control and non-Proliferation
Bill) jointly with the Defence, Foreign Affairs and International
Development Committees (informally know as the Quadripartite Committee).
In addition, the Committee took oral evidence on
gas prices in the UK, the UK Aerospace Industry and the work of
the Small Business Service.
3. The current Committee was appointed on 16
July 2001 and published the Government's observations on the previous
Committee's reports on Steel, the Impact on trade and Industry
of Motor Fuel Taxation, Local Loop Unbundling, UK Online Reviewed,
Industrial and Trade Relations with Turkey and the Ilisu Dam on
20 July. We will keep the issues raised in our predecessors' reports
under review and undertake further inquiries as appropriate. It
is worth noting that since the publication of this First Special
Report of Session 2001-2002, the UK contractors involved with
the proposed construction of the Ilisu dam have announced their
withdrawal from the project.
4. By the end of 2001 we had completed one inquiry
and embarked on two others. We conducted a short inquiry into
the End of Life Vehicles Directive, which is intended to
provide for the safe and environmentally beneficial disposal of
vehicles which have come to the end of their useful life. The
Directive is due to come into force in April 2002, will have major
cost implications for the UK car manufacturing, secondhand car
parts and scrap industries, and will also affect the way in which
last owners of vehicles may dispose of their cars. The DTI was
consulting on the implementation of the Directive in the UK, and
we used this opportunity to monitor and to make recommendations
on the Government's transposition of this significant piece of
European legislation something which is not really possible
under the procedures for parliamentary consideration of secondary
5. We also initiated inquiries on security of
energy supply in the UK, on which we have completed our programme
of oral evidence, and on the productivity and competitiveness
of the UK manufacturing industry which will be completed in the
first quarter of 2002.
6. We have joined the Defence, Foreign Affairs
and International Committees in re-establishing the Quadripartite
Committee to examine issues connected with strategic export controls.
7. In addition to our programme of inquiries,
we intend to hold annual evidence sessions on the role, objectives
and targets of the DTI and to scrutinise the work of organisations
such as Ofgem and Oftel and the office of the e-Envoy on a regular
basis, usually annually. To that end we have took oral evidence
from the Secretary of State on her plans for the restructuring
of the DTI, and held a general evidence session with Consignia
in December. We intend to take evidence from the e-Envoy and the
Minister for e-Commerce in February.
8. We have also undertaken and will be continuing
a series of informal briefing meetings with non-governmental organisations,
to maintain our awareness of issues of concern to consumers and
industry, and to guide our choice of issues for formal inquiry.
9. We intend also to review the prospects for
the next round of WTO trade negotiations, the framework for which
was agreed at Doha in November 2001, during the first half of
2002; and to conduct a brief inquiry into fuel poverty during
the spring. We will identify further issues for investigation
as the year goes on.
10. We will visit Brussels in February to discuss
with Commissioners, officials and MEPs such issues as the new
WTO round; the opening of the electricity, gas and postal markets;
the burden of regulation on small businesses; and the security
of energy supply. We hope, like our predecessors, to make such
a visit once a year, to keep ourselves informed about the most
important developments on trade and industry in the European Union.
17 January 2002