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Consumer Credit Act

Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the annual cost was in England and Wales of trading standards activity on consumer credit and finance and the enforcement of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 in each year since 1997. [86971]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The trading standards activities of local authorities are funded through the revenue support grant, and the allocation of resources to individual trading standards functions is a matter for each local authority to determine. It is therefore not possible to state the annual cost in England and Wales of trading standards activity on consumer credit and finance and the enforcement of the Consumer Credit Act.

Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what the annual costs of the OFT were in relation to the implementation of its activities under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, in each year since 1997; [86973]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Office of Fair Trading's income from its licensing activities under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 for each of the last five financial years was:


During the same period, the annual costs to the OFT of its functions under the Act were:


Debt

Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the annual costs to public funds were of (a) Citizens Advice Bureaux and (b) money advice centres, in relation to individuals in debt in (i) England

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and Wales and (ii) the UK in each year since 1997; what proportion of these costs relate to (A) consumer credit and finance and (B) creditor organisations licensed under the Consumer Credit Act 1974. [86974]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Individual Citizens Advice Bureaux (CABx) are not funded by Central Government. Each local CAB is a separate independent charity funded usually by local authorities, charitable trusts etc.

DTI funds both the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux (NACAB) and Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS). NACAB and CAS provide both focus and support for the work of the CAB Service in England, Wales and Scotland. NACAB and CAS also provides training services and IT support to CABx, and is responsible for setting the standards of membership for the service. DTI expects to provide NACAB with grant-in-aid funding of #17.1 million, and CAS with grant-in-aid funding of 2.8 million in this financial year.

In addition, #14.55 million is paid for money advice to individuals in debt in the UK.


Due to the way in which the figures are collected, it is impossible to give a meaningful breakdown of what proportion of funding is used in relation to consumer credit and finance, and creditor organisations licensed under the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what action the Government is taking outside the UN to ascertain information regarding the alleged breaches of the OECD guidelines on multinational enterprises by UK companies referred to in the UN Panel of Experts' report on resource exploitation in the DRC; [85630]

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Miss Melanie Johnson: We are seeking more information from the UN panel before considering what action we might want to take.

The UK, along with other members of the Security Council, has asked for more information on the claims made in the Panel's latest report. We have asked specifically for information on the allegations made against UK companies and nationals. We have yet to receive this material.

The current Panel's mandate expired when it submitted its last report (18 October 2002). There is currently no mechanism or process in place to take forward the Panel's work. We are pressing, through discussions at the UN, for a speedy resolution to this administrative problem.

We have asked for details of the basis for designating the 12 British companies appearing in Annex III. Annex III is a list of all the entities the Panel considers to be in breach of OECD guidelines. None of these entities are individuals.

The United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations requested additional information from the UN Panel of Experts about companies allegedly in breach of OECD guidelines in Security Council consultations on 24 October 2002.

DRAX Power Station

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for what reason Ofgem arranged for National Grid Transco to purchase 25 per cent. of the output of the DRAX power station; whether (a) she and (b) her officials were consulted about these arrangements; and if she will make a statement. [87109]

Mr. Wilson : I understand that as part of its contingency planning associated with the financial difficulties experienced by TXU Energy, NGC assessed the risk to security of supply in the very short term of a significant volume of generation becoming unavailable to the electricity system.

On this occasion, NGC considered that it was appropriate to enter into contractual arrangements to ensure that there was sufficient contingency reserve. I understand that NGC has explained its actions at its recent Operational Forum for market participants.

Steel Industry (Future Aircraft Carrier)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the ability of the UK steel industry to meet the demands of the future aircraft carrier project. [87122]

Alan Johnson: The UK steel industry produces a range of products for use in marine applications, including naval vessels. However the exact specification

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of the steel required for the future aircraft carrier project is not known at present. This will be a matter for the prime contractor, when appointed.

Care Homes

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry from when the regulations introducing a VAT concession for commercially-provided home care will apply. [86681]

John Healey: I have been asked to reply.

Commercially provided care for people in residential and nursing homes has been exempt from VAT since the introduction of the tax in 1973. The Government have no plans to change this exemption.

Newspaper Distribution

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she expects to receive the Office of Fair Trading review of the Code of Practice on Newspaper Distribution. [86592]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Office of Fair Trading published its review of the Code of Practice on newspaper distribution on 12 December. Its provisional recommendation, that selling-on should be fully liberalised, is now open to a further period of public consultation until 14 March 2003.

Official Travel

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total expenditure of (a) his Department and (b) its agencies was on official travel in 2001–02. [84793]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 3 December 2002]: Since 1999, the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing #500 or more during each financial year. The Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Details of travel undertaken during the period 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002 was published on 24 July 2002, Official Report, column 75W. The cost of Ministers' visits overseas for 2002–03 will be published as soon as possible after the end of the current financial year. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House.

All travel is undertaken fully in accordance with the rules set out in the 'Ministerial Code' and 'Travel by Ministers', copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total budget of (a) her Department and (b) its agencies is for official travel in 2002–03. [84939]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 3 December 2002]: Since 1999, the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing #500 or more during each financial year. The Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Details of travel undertaken during the period 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002 was published on 24 July 2002, Official Report, column 75W. The cost of Ministers' visits overseas for

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2002–03 will be published as soon as possible after the end of the current financial year. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House.

All travel is undertaken fully in accordance with the rules set out in the 'Ministerial Code' and 'Travel by Ministers', copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.


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