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7 Jan 2003 : Column 143W—continued

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

GATS

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what organisations have been consulted in the UK public consultation on GATS; and what measures have been taken to maximise public contributions to the consultation process. [88002]

Ms Hewitt: To date, my Department has distributed over 1,500 copies of the consultation document to NGOs, professional associations, trade associations, industry groups, members of the public and other interested groups and associations. In addition, the consultation document has been available in two formats (PDF and Word) on the DTFs World Trade web site.

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Nuclear Facilities (Safety)

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what advice he has given to civil nuclear facilities regarding security. [88396]

Mr. Wilson: Advice on security measures at civil nuclear facilities is provided by the DTI's Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS). The Director of Civil Nuclear Security, the nuclear security regulator, published his first annual report this year outlining his activities, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

It is not Government policy to disclose details of security issues concerning nuclear facilities as this information could be of use to potential terrorists.

Arbre Biomass Renewable Energy Plant

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she received (a) from and (b) in relation to the Arbre Biomass renewable energy plant; and if she will make a statement. [88101]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 19 December 2002]: My officials and I, have received a number of representations from those with an interest in the Arbre biomass plant.

Despite the recent problems that have beset Arbre it is hoped the project will be brought into full commercial operation under new ownership. The Government has indicated its willingness to talk to interested parties willing to create a long-term future for Arbre and to consider proposals which reduce the technical risk of taking the project to commercial operation.

Many lessons have already been learnt as a result of the project that can be applied to future high efficiency biomass plant, which are likely to be required if dedicated biomass plant are to be available in the medium term.

ASW Steel

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will publish the communications she has received from (a) Members and (b) officials of the Welsh Assembly about (i) ASW Steel and (ii) Celsa. [87452]

Ms Hewitt: DTI Ministers have received a number of communications from Members and officials of the Welsh Assembly Government about the receivership of ASW Holdings Ltd. and the subsequent announcement by its receivers, KPMG, that they have entered into an exclusivity agreement with Celsa to discuss the sale of certain ASW assets. It has been the policy of successive Governments not to disclose confidential communications between Government Departments which are covered by Exemption 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what date she was informed that (a) ASW Steel had gone into receivership, (b) the Cardiff plant was closed by the receivers and (c) Celsa had purchased part of ASW Steel's assets. [87453]

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Ms Hewitt [holding answer 16 December 2002]: The answer is as follows:

(a) I became aware that ASW Holdings Ltd. was in difficulty in early July and immediately initiated discussions to try to help the company. My colleague, Minister of State for Employment Relations, Industry and the Regions, held an emergency meeting, on 8 July 2002 involving the company, its bankers and credit insurers. Despite these efforts, I was informed on 10 July 2002 that the company unfortunately had been left with no alternative but to call in the receivers.

(b) On 24 July 2002, the receivers, KPMG, informed my Department that production at the Cardiff plant would not recommence after the annual two-week summer shut down due to begin on 26 July 2002.

(c) I became aware that Celsa had entered into an exclusivity agreement with KPMG to negotiate the purchase of part of ASW's assets on 11 November 2002.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions her Department had with (a) Members, (b) officials of the Welsh Assembly, (c) officials and (d) receivers of (i) ASW Steel and (ii) Celsa regarding the sale of ASW Steel to Celsa and what the (A) purpose and (B) conclusions of them were. [87459]

Ms Hewitt: ASW is in administrative receivership and discussions with potential purchasers of the company are entirely a matter for the receivers, KPMG. My Department has therefore had no discussions with Celsa. My Department has, as you might expect, maintained a dialogue, and met, with KPMG to keep abreast of developments in order to assess the future of the company and its workforce. It has also maintained contact with officials at the Welsh Assembly to exchange information on the progress of discussions between the receivers and potential purchasers.

The sale of parts of ASW to Celsa has not been finalised. The discussions between Celsa and KPMG are subject to a confidentiality agreement and so full details of the proposed agreement are not known at this stage. Celsa has indicated that if its bid is finalised it hopes to create jobs for around 600 in Cardiff. KPMG continue discussions with prospective purchasers for the parts of the Sheerness plant not included in the proposed Celsa deal and I very much hope that a buyer can be found.

At the request of my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, officials in HM Consulate General Barcelona have separately attempted, unsuccessfully, to facilitate a private meeting for my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, with Celsa. In doing so, it was made clear that my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, wished to express his concern for his constituents and the job losses involved and that her Majesty's Government was impartial between the UK locations currently occupied by ASW and officials would not be able to accompany my hon. Friend to any meeting with the company. Apart from this, my Department has had no contact with the company.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on her Department's involvement in the sale of ASW Steel to Celsa. [87460]

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Ms Hewitt: ASW Holdings Ltd. is in administrative receivership and the sale of the company is a matter for the appointed receivers, KPMG. My Department has had no involvement in the proposed sale of parts of ASW Holdings Ltd. to Celsa.

At the request of my hon. Friend, the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Mr. Wyatt), officials in HM Consulate General Barcelona have separately attempted, unsuccessfully, to facilitate a private meeting for my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey with Celsa. In doing so, it was made clear that my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey wished to express his concern for his constituents and the job losses involved.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what grants have been made to (a) ASW Steel, (b) Celsa, (c) ASW's Cardiff site, and (d) ASW's Sheerness site in each of the last two years, stating for each (i) the date and (ii) conditions of the grant. [87490]

Ms Hewitt: I can find no record of grants awarded by my Department to any part of ASW Holdings Ltd. in the last two years, neither is there any record of any grants to the Sheerness plant from authorities in the south-east. Similarly, the Welsh Assembly Government inform me that no grants have been awarded to the Cardiff site from Welsh authorities. Celsa, although it is currently in discussion with KPMG for the purchase of parts of ASW, is a Spanish company with no known business operations in the UK, and so would not have received any grants in the UK.

British Energy

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the financial implications to BNFL of the rescue package for British Energy; and if she will make a statement. [88662]

Mr. Wilson: This is a commercial matter for BNFL.

Broadband Satellite (SEEDA)

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much was spent on the SEEDA's policy to introduce broadband by satellite; and why the scheme was discontinued. [88014]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 19 December 2002]: To date approximately 200 grants have been offered at #1,060 each during a pilot phase of SEEDA's satellite broadband programme. The trial ran from June through to November 2002. The programme has not been discontinued. The results of the pilot are being evaluated and it is planned that the programme will be launched across the whole of the south-east region early in the new year.


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