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21 Nov 2002 : Column 255W—continued

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Bilateral Trade

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what the total level of bilateral trade was with each EU applicant country in the last 12 months; [82352]

Ms Hewitt: According to information published by HM Customs and Excise, the value of UK trade in goods with the EU applicant countries, for the 12-month period ended August 2002, was as follows:

# million

UK imports UK exports
Malta168.9232.7
Estonia320.7101.8
Latvia433.376.4
Lithuania249.9151.3
Poland1,235.61,331.3
Czech Republic1,247.61,081.9
Slovakia200.6201.3
Hungary798.3715.5
Slovenia165.5169.4
Cyprus237.6276.7
Romania494.5394.4
Bulgaria113.1133.8

BNFL

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make it her policy to

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seek a reduction in the movements of (a) high-level and (b) intermediate-level radioactive material by BNFL. [80861]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 20 November 2002]: The number of movements of radioactive material undertaken by BNFL is dependent on operational requirements and is a matter for BNFL. I have no reason to believe that BNFL or any other relevant operator would undertake unnecessary movements of radioactive material The transport of radioactive material in the UK is subject to stringent regulatory requirements in respect of safety and security.

Business Link

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the cost is of the Business Link advertisement campaign broken down by (a) newspapers, (b) radio and television. [80482]

Nigel Griffiths: The current advertising campaign was launched in September 2002. The costs associated with the campaign to date are:

#

(a) Newspapers(b) Radio(c) Television
Media549,978489,2552,139,063
Production(15)62,98044,202239,275

(15) Excludes COI fees and VAT.


Phase 2 of the campaign is due to run in the new year with advertising planned to run on TV, radio, press and online.

Car Parking

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many car parking spaces are available to (a) employees of her Department and (b) visitors to her Department within the proposed Central London Road User Charging Zone. [81866]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 19 November 2002]: Within the proposed central London charging zone there are:


Congestion Charging

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the policy is of her Department in relation to the reimbursement of Central London road user charges incurred by its employees. [81846]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 19 November 2002]: The DTI policy in relation to reimbursement of central London road user charges incurred by its employees is to reimburse the costs only if necessarily incurred on essential departmental business.

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the estimated cost is to her Department of the Central London Road User Charging Scheme for (a) 17 February 2003 to 31 March 2003, and (b) 1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004. [81885]

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Ms Hewitt [holding answer 19 November 2002]: The DTI does not maintain central records of the number of staff who make essential business journeys into the area covered by the central London congestion charging zone. To obtain data on which to produce a meaningful estimate for the information requested would entail disproportionate cost.

Debt Swapping

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on her policy towards debt swapping and the rainforest. [81243]

Ms Hewitt: Under ECGD's Debt Conversion Scheme, a percentage of a country's rescheduled debt stock (usually 10 or 20 per cent.) can be swapped for 'certain' projects. When evaluating such requests, ECGD will consider the potential contribution of any project towards the social, economic and environmental development of the country. ECGD is willing to consider projects involving rainforest protection. Any project must be jointly approved by the debtor Government and ECGD and comply with ECGD's Business Principles.

The Debt Conversion Scheme does not affect debt relief for HIPCs (Highly Indebted Poor Countries), for whom the UK Government have pledged to write-off 100 per cent. of their UK debt. Debt write-offs for HIPCs are contingent on country commitment to a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper process.

Employment Agencies

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the Government's policy is on the responsibility of employment agencies to interview and assess those responding to job advertisements, where the advertisement is published (a) in a newspaper and (b) on the internet; and if she will make a statement. [82021]

Alan Johnson: Under the legislation covering the private recruitment industry, employment agencies and employment businesses, who have placed job vacancy advertisements in either a newspaper or on the internet, before supplying or introducing a work-seeker to an employer, are required to make all such inquiries as are reasonably practicable to establish that the worker-seeker is suitable and has such qualifications as are required by law and that employment of that work-seeker by the employer would not breach any other duty or restriction imposed by law.

It is in the best interests of all those involved in this sector to ensure that the legislation covering the private recruitment industry operates effectively and is relevant to the flexible labour market of today and of the future. On-line recruitment companies have proposed that the Employment Agency legislation should not apply to on-line job boards. I will consider the case for treating on-line job boards as a special case on its merits within the normal framework.

India

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she next plans to visit India. [82045]

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Ms Hewitt: I plan to visit India early in the new year 2003.

Industrial Tribunals

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the time it takes for industrial tribunals to hear individual cases; and if she will make a statement. [82107]

Alan Johnson: In the financial year 2001–02, the Employment Tribunals heard 69 per cent. of individual cases within 26 weeks of receipt. In the current financial year, as at the end of October 2002, Employment Tribunals have heard 72 per cent. of individual cases within 26 weeks of receipt.

This achievement is in the context of a 60 per cent. increase in applications over the three years to March 2001. At March 2002, the level of applications remained high in comparison to previous years.

Parliamentary Answer

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Bacon) of 10 June if he will place details of the direction in the Library; and if he will make a statement. [80620]

Ms Hewitt: I have no plans to do so under Exemption 13 of the Open Government Code, on grounds of commercial confidentiality where disclosure would harm the competitive position of a third party.

UK Solar Industry

Mike Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many jobs have been created in the UK Solar PV industry since 1997; and if she will make a statement. [81750]

Mr. Wilson: The DTI's 1996 Sectoral Competitiveness Analysis for PV estimated that there were a maximum of 350 people employed fulltime in the manufacture, supply, design, consultancy, and research areas. A subsequent review in 2001 concluded that though there had been some expansion and reduction of staff in individual organisations the overall figure had remained about the same.

Since then, with the implementation of the #10 million Domestic and Large-Scale Field Trials, and the launch of the #20 million First Phase of the Major Photovoltaic Demonstration Programme this number has undoubtedly risen.

Renewables UK is conducting a GAP analysis, which will include figures on employment. This will be published next year.


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