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25 Nov 2002 : Column 34Wcontinued
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what inquiries were made of ECGD by the Jersey authorities regarding the contract which it backed between BAE Systems and the Government of Qatar in 1996. 
Ms Hewitt: ECGD discussed this matter with the Serious Fraud Office which was giving assistance to the Jersey authorities. The nature of this assistance is a matter for the SFO
John Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what procedures ECGD operates for investigating allegations of corruption made regarding projects it has covered. 
Ms Hewitt: Where there are allegations or suspicions of corrupt practice, ECGD will carry out initial inquiries to seek further information. But ECGD has no investigatory powers and thus passes any substantive information it receives when relevant to the appropriate authorities, for example the police or the serious fraud office.
John Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many staff from ECGD have gone on to work for companies which have received ECGD support; which companies they went to work for in the last 10 years; and what precautions ECGD takes to prevent conflict of interest. 
Ms Hewitt: Since November 1992 13 civil servants have left ECGD to work for companies which have received support from the Department. In all cases to ensure there was no cause for any suspicion of impropriety, they sought and obtained the required prior approval under the Civil Service rules governing the acceptance of outside business appointments and where appropriate were approved subject to conditions. The details are as follows:
|January 1993||GEC Alsthom Ltd.|
|June 1994||ANZ Grindlays Bank|
|June 1994||Trafalgar House Construction|
|February 1995||Bank of America|
|December 1995||British Aerospace|
|September 1997||Royal Bank of Scotland|
|December 1997||Barclays Bank plc|
|March 2000||Halifax Bank PLC|
|September 1999||Motherwell Bridge Holdings Ltd.|
|July 2001||Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi|
|June 2001||Barclays Bank plc|
|October 2001||Royal Bank of Scotland|
25 Nov 2002 : Column 35W
John Austin : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many staff have been seconded from the private sector to ECGD and from which companies they have been seconded in the last 10 years. 
Ms Hewitt: Four people have been seconded to ECGD from the private sector in the last 10 years and details are as follows:
Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will take steps (a) to ban over-the-counter sale of fireworks, (b) to introduce a local licensing system for applications to use fireworks for party and community events and (c) to regulate the sale of fireworks through order-only companies; and if she will make a statement. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: The Government do not believe the case has been made for banning the sale of fireworks to the public. Primary legislation would be required to do this as well as regulating the sale and use of fireworks. The Consumer Protection Act 1987 only allows the making of regulations to control the safety of fireworks as a product.
Also, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 17 October 2002, Official Report, columns 88990, announcing a package of measures to address problems caused by fireworks.
Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with the Insolvency Service about this year's pay negotiations; and if she will make a statement. 
Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 21 November 2002]: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 7 November 2002, Official Report, column 722W.
Sandra Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the export licences which have been approved for arms sales to Israel in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. 
Nigel Griffiths: Details of all export licences issued between 2 May 1997 and 31 December 2001 are published by destination in the Government's Annual Reports on Strategic Export Controls. Copies of the 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 Annual Reports are available from the Libraries of the House.
Between 1 January 2002 and 7 November 2002, 64 Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs) and four Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs) were issued, for items on the Military List, where the end users were in Israel. Individual export licences might cover a range
25 Nov 2002 : Column 36W
of items with various ratings. Where this is so, the licence is included in the totals for all of the relevant ratings. Details are set out in the following table:
|Rating||Number of SIELs issued||Number of OIELs issued|
In addition, items on the Military List might have been exported under certain Open General Export Licences. Copies of all Open General Export Licences are placed in the Libraries of the House.
Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions she has had with the National Federation of Newsagents; and if she will make a statement. 
Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 21 November 2002]: My right hon. Friend and I have not had any recent discussions with the National Federation of Retail Newsagents.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is currently reviewing the 1994 Code of Practice on the supply of national newspapers, introduced following the 1993 monopoly report on newspaper distribution in England and Wales, and is expected to report by the end of the year.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her holding answer of 19 November 2002, Ref: 81866, if she will explain the meaning and purpose of the words XRound Robin-guidance Expected", added to the question. 
Ms Hewitt: The wording was provided for drafting officials. Because of an administrative error, it was not removed from the text of the holding reply, for which I apologise.
Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if export credit guarantees have been granted to companies wishing to take part in the Plan Puebla Panama in Mexico. 
Ms Hewitt: No export credit guarantees have been granted for the Plan Puebla Panama.
25 Nov 2002 : Column 37W
Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the UK companies who have expressed an interest in taking part in the Plan Puebla Panama in Mexico. 
Ms Hewitt: Though some UK companies will be aware of Plan Puebla Panama because information is publicly available, we do not know of any who have registered interest in it. The Plan is still being developed in Mexico with the details of specific projects and financing yet to be finalised.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the take-up rate of the post card account needed to ensure the financial viability of the urban sub post office network once the Urban Reinvention Programme has been completed. 
Mr. Timms [holding answer 21 November 2002]: Urban reinvention is a modernisation and restructuring programme designed to ensure that urban sub post offices can operate as viable businesses for their owners and offer improved services from the right locations to serve their communities.
As identified in the PIU report on the future of the network, the future viability of the restructured urban network will depend on the ability of the business to maximise commercial opportunities, improve efficiency and improve the quality of individual offices. It is anticipated that banking services will make a major contribution towards ensuring a viable future for many urban post offices.
Universal banking services (both the card account and the banks own basic bank accounts), together with the Post Office's plans for an expansion of network banking (commercial arrangements between the Post Office and individual banks providing access to standard bank accounts over post office counters), should lead to a substantial increase in the number of people using post offices to do banking transactions. Wider access to bank accounts at post offices opens up a very much larger market than benefit recipients alone, and this should benefit sub-postmasters both directly and through increased footfall.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what commitments have been made to banks concerning the number of (a) basic bank account and (b) post office card accounts that will be opened. 
Mr. Timms [holding answer 21 November 2002]: No commitments have been made to banks concerning the numbers of Post Office card accounts or basic bank accounts that will be opened.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether there is an upper limit for the number of post card accounts that can be opened. 
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Mr. Timms [holding answer 21 November 2002]: The aim of the benefit payment migration to ACT and marketing strategy will be to ensure that each customer has the best account for his or her circumstances. There are no eligibility criteria and no cap on numbers for the card account at the Post Office. Customers will choose the account they want.
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