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Electricity (Trading and Transmission) Bill

The Minister for Energy and Construction (Mr. Brian Wilson): The draft Electricity (Trading and Transmission) Bill, which will bring forward the British Electricity Transmission and Trading Arrangements (BETTA), is being published today. The Trade and Industry Committee will now undertake pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill and will issue a report by Easter.

Copies of the draft Bill and draft Explanatory Notes are available in the House Library. A Regulatory Impact Assessment has been published on DTI and Ofgem's websites.

Export Control Act 2002

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Nigel Griffiths): I have today published a consultation document on the secondary legislation to be introduced under the Export Control Act 2002. This makes provision for new controls on the transfer abroad of military technology by electronic means; the transfer of technology by any means or provision of technical assistance overseas which may be used in connection with weapons of mass destruction programmes; and trade in military equipment between overseas countries.

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The consultation document contains the drafts of the orders, explains how the new controls are expected to operate in practice and invites views on their practical implementation. The partial Regulatory Impact Assessment provides an initial assessment of the impact of the new controls and invites views on the estimated compliance costs. The consultation period will last for 3 months, closing on 30 April 2003. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.


Iraq (Reservists)

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon): In my statement on 7 January 2003, Official Report, columns 23–25. I informed the House that I had made an Order under Section 54(1) of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to enable the call out of reservists for possible operations against Iraq. I explained that the overall scale of mobilisation would depend upon the continuing evolution of our contingency planning, that we envisaged initially sending out sufficient call-out notices to secure around 1,500 reservists, and that we would issue further notices as appropriate.

That process of calling out and mobilising reservists is underway. By 24 January 2003, the Services had issued 2,063 notices. As I explained in my statement on 7 January, the number of notices issued has to be significantly larger than the number of reservists required, to allow for the proportion who are likely to be genuinely unavailable.

Further contingency planning has now clarified the likely size and shape of our additional requirements, in particular in the light of the decision we reached recently on the size and composition of land forces that we plan to deploy, which I described in my statement on 20 January, Official Report, columns 34–35. Our latest assessment is that our overall requirement for reservists is likely to be up to 6,000, including those currently in the process of mobilisation. We will now issue further call-out notices over the coming weeks to enable us to meet this requirement. The size of the requirement will remain under review as our planning continues.