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Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on what conclusions she has reached as part of her Department's review of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 with respect to the questions of (a) how credit card annual percentage rates are calculated and (b) whether there is a case for reform of the statutory rules. 
Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 13 January 2003]: A review of the Consumer Credit Act was announced in July 2001. To date, consultation papers have been published on the financial limits in the Act and the agreements that are exempt from its control; the early settlement of consumer credit agreements; and the conclusion of agreements by electronic means.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the (a) purchase cost, (b) installation cost and (c) annual operating costs since its installation were of the ELGAR IT system; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Hewitt: The information requested cannot be provided as pricing information about the ELGAR contract is Commercial in Confidence and is therefore subject to exemption 13 of the Code of Practice on access to Government Information.
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Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the latest position on research, demonstration and development expenditure on energy options and institutions. 
|Meteorological Office emergency response arrangements||2.1|
|Combined heat and power||2.4|
1. Of DTI's total spend on nuclear R&D given above, #14.3 million was on fusion research and #2.1 million in support of Meteorological Office emergency response arrangements. Expenditure on nuclear R&D by public sector bodies is set out in their annual reports and accounts and could not be provided in the manner requested without disproportionate cost.
2. The table sets out identified Government spend and excludes, for example, spending by research councils, which could not be separated in the manner requested without disproportionate cost.
3. DTI's New and Renewable Energy R&D programme also includes support for activities which are not technology specific, for example, export, commercialisation, marketing and international activities.
4. In 2001, payment appropriations from EC Budget to Euratom were 209 million euros and to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre 249.7 million euros.
5. UK payments to the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2002 were as follows:
IAEA Regular budget subscription#6,261,011
IAEA Technical co-operation fund#2,525,046.
Mr. Wilson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is a Member of the Cabinet Committee, DA(N), which is overseeing the energy review and the team who are undertaking the detailed work includes a number of officials drawn from DEFRA.
Mr. Wilson: DTI is working with the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (the statutory body for the industry) and other key players in the sector to address skills shortages and other related issues. We have helped:
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Ms Hewitt: It is government policy to promote fair trade products, against the background of the need to obtain best value for money, the EC procurement rules and the Department's objectives. Within these guidelines the Department and its Agencies are committed to supporting ethical trading wherever possible. For example, the Department's Catering Contractor to its London Restaurants makes available fair trade tea and coffee to staff.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the United Kingdom's position is in the EU league table of stock of foreign direct investment; and if she will make a statement. 
Nigel Griffiths: Latest UNCTAD figures confirm the UK's ranking as Europe's top investment location in the stock of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) with $496,776 million and that we are second only to the USA in the world. Latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures also show that FDI stock in the UK in the third quarter of 2002 was at a record level of #390.6 billion, an increase of #25.1 billion or 7 per cent. over the same quarter in 2001. These figures are a clear vote of confidence in the UK's business conditions.
The Government are determined to see the UK remain the top location in Europe for inward investment and will continue to pursue economic policies which will enhance the UK's attractions including lasting economic stability, open markets and a pro-business environment.
Mr. Lyons: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the Government are doing to combat illegal working practices and how many companies have been prosecuted since 1997 for such practices. 
The Department for Work and Pensions is focusing increasingly on fraud where dishonest employers abuse the system, for example by not paying national insurance contributions or by paying artificially low wages to workers who continue to claim out-of-work benefits.
We have put in place a programme targeting these employers and have specialist teams working together with the Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise to tackle employer fraud, including Joint Shadow Economy Teams. In addition we have since 1 May 2002 had powers under the Fraud Act to impose a financial
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penalty on employers who abuse the system instead of prosecuting them. This new power, together with the work we are doing jointly with the taxation Departments, marks a step change in our approach to those employers who would collude with their employees in cheating the tax or benefit systems.
Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what criteria are used to determine the payment of compensation to former miners suffering from (a) respiratory disease and (b) vibration white finger. 
Mr. Wilson: The criteria for eligibility for compensation for respiratory disease and vibration white finger (VWF) are detailed in the High Court judgements handed down against British Coal in 1998 and 1997 respectively. These criteria formed the basis of the Claims Handling Agreement, which were subsequently negotiated with the solicitors acting for the claimants.
Former miners and their families are entitled to compensation if the claimant is found to be suffering from respiratory disease caused by his exposure to mine dust and fumes while employed underground after 4 June 1954, the date of liability. For VWF former miners and their families are entitled to compensation if the claimant is found to be suffering from VWF caused by his being employed in an occupational group whereby exposure to vibratory tools was substantial or significant after 1975.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many annual transactions in (a) 2001 and (b) 2002 could have been covered by the New Export System procedures; and how many are expected to be covered in (i) 2003 and (ii) 2004. 
The total of export declaration transactions in 2001 was 4.5 million and the total for 2002 was also 4.5 million. All of the export declaration transactions made during 200102 could have been handled by the New Export System (NES) had the system been in place
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at that time. It is estimated that 4.5 to 5 million export declaration transactions will be processed in 2003 and the same in 2004 providing there are no major changes to current pattern in UK exports.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what regulatory impact assessment has been carried out of the New Export System; and what the estimated annual costs are to business. 
The implementation of the New Export System (NES) has required no new regulations, just new procedures and therefore no regulatory impact assessment has been required. There are, however, compliance rules for exporters who choose to use simplified procedures for export declarations. These procedures have been widely publicised and are documented on HMCE website.
There is no estimate of annual costs to business as a whole as the cost will depend on how each exporter has chosen to implement NES and any savings offset as a result of a reduction in paper handling.
Although regular liaison and exchange of information takes place with other member states on all international trade matters, there is no joint initiative to implement New Export System (NES) across the EU. However, several other member states have or will be implementing electronic export declarations and others have taken an active interest in the UK implementation of NES. NES is also fully compliant with EU regulations.
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