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25 Feb 2003 : Column 411W—continued

Vulnerable Prisoners

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) men and (b) women are being held in vulnerable prisoner units in prisons in England and Wales. [96246]

Hilary Benn: The number of male prisoners being held in vulnerable prisoner units in prisons in England and Wales was about 3,800 on 31 December 2002. There are no vulnerable prisoner units for women because the number of female prisoners requiring the specialist facilities that such units would provide is minimal and Governors will make specific arrangements for individuals locally.


Equal Pay

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister for Women if she will make a statement on the pay gap between women and men. [97717]

Ms Hewitt: The pay gap between women and men currently stands at 19 per cent., down from 30 per cent. in 1975 when the Equal Pay Act came into force. The Government are taking action to tackle the complex underlying factors behind the pay gap, including promoting voluntary pay reviews and good practice on equal pay through the Fair Pay Champions and Castle Awards. Denise Kingsmill is chairing a task force "Accounting for People" which is considering human capital reporting by companies and is likely to have significant implications for women in the workplace. The Employment Act 2002 introduces measures to help parents maintain links with the world of work and better balance their work and home lives. These will help women return to the labour market and have a positive impact on the pay gap. The Act also introduces an equal pay questionnaire that will make it easier to tackle pay

discrimination in the workplace. All Government Departments are committed to carrying out a pay review by April 2003.

Equal Opportunities

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister for Women what measures she intends to take to encourage the promotion of women into (a) the board of FTSE 100 companies and (b) senior positions in trade unions; and if she will make a statement. [98059]

Ms Hewitt: I have welcomed Derek Higgs' proposals on how to widen the pool from which non-executive directors are drawn, which could bring more women into the boardroom. Derek Higgs made proposals for a more rigorous, fair and open appointment process. Subject to consultation on the detailed wording, the Financial Reporting Council intends to put the changes

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to the Combined Code into effect on 1 July. A small group of business leaders and others, led by Professor Laura Tyson of the London Business School, is also being set up to bring to greater prominence candidates, including women, from the non-commercial sector.

The Women and Equality Unit and TUC held a joint event in November 2002 which aimed at encouraging trade union women to apply for public appointments. This was part of a wider strategy to encourage women to see that they have the skills and confidence necessary to apply for senior positions in public life more generally,

including within their own unions.

I welcome the appointment in January of Frances O'Grady to the position of Deputy General Secretary of the TUC—the first time that a woman has been appointed to this position; and the appointment of Kay Carberry as Assistant General Secretary of the TUC, again the first time a woman has been appointed to this position.



Mr. Lansley: To ask the Prime Minister whether he has authorised military aid to the Civil Power in relation to the current terrorist threat to the UK. [98691]

The Prime Minister: Following a request from the police, the Government recently authorised a military deployment around Heathrow under the arrangements for providing military aid to the Civil Power. These arrangements have been used on many occasions in the past and will be used again in the future, whenever necessary, to ensure the security of the United Kingdom and its people.


Arms Exports

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her estimate is of the annual level of export credits for UK arms sales, in each year from 1990–91 to 2002–03; and if she will make a statement. [96816]

Ms Hewitt: ECGD guarantees in support of exports of defence equipment and services have been provided for the following amounts:—

Year£ million
2002–03(20) 1,598

(20) To date

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Auditor Liabilities

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether she has plans to cap auditor liabilities. [99090]

Ms Hewitt: The Government are considering proposals on auditor liability in the Company Law Review and will consult on its own detailed proposals in due course.


Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) which British companies have investments in Burma; [97221]

Ms Hewitt: HMG has no reliable annual figures on the level of investment from the UK and the dependent territories to Burma. Burmese statistics, which are often inaccurate, suggest total accumulated British investment of about US$1440 million. The most significant British investments are believed to be Premier Oil's, which are currently in the process of being sold, and those of British American Tobacco. We believe that some of the investment identified as being British is actually foreign investment that has been channelled through dependent territories.

Coal Industry

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the results of the consultation on investment for the coal industry. [98638]

Mr. Wilson: I intend to publish shortly a formal response to the consultation on the case for investment aid to the coal industry.

An outline framework for an investment aid scheme was submitted to the European Commission on 19 December 2002. But a number of important details remain to be finalised, and these are now being worked on in the light of the commitments set out in the Energy Policy White Paper Cm 5761, published on 24 February 2003.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what changes in unit payments for

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electricity have resulted from the switch by her Department to purchasing renewable energy which is exempt from the Climate Change Levy. [96485]

Ms Hewitt: The actual average price of electricity purchased during 2001–02 was 4.6438 p/KWh compared to the normal price of 4.5978 p/KWh. This is equivalent to an increase of 1 per cent. in the average price paid.


Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her estimate is of the total spending of her Department on entertainment in each year from 1994–95 to 2002–03; and if she will make a statement. [92398]

Ms Hewitt: The Department of Trade and Industry's total spending on entertainment was as follows;

£ 000's


(21) Estimate

As a result of the implementation of a new accounting system and several Machinery of Government changes, comparable figures are not available prior to 1998–99. This expenditure was incurred primarily in the promotion of British Trade, Science and Innovation, UK Business and Energy.

Fur (Labelling)

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent research her Department has (a) undertaken and (b) begun to undertake to assess the amount of fur derived from domestic animals labelled in a misleading manner for sale to the public; and if she will make a statement. [98183]

Ms Hewitt: The DTI has received professional advice from LGC Ltd. on the possibilities for undertaking DNA testing of products on sale in the UK that are alleged to contain fur of domestic animals. The advice stated that it had not yet been possible to identify a testing method that could reliably determine the specific type of fur that a product contains—i.e. whether such fur has come from a domestic animal or otherwise. I am placing copies of this advice in the Library of the House. We have asked LGC Ltd. to advise us further on the viability and costs of developing such a testing method.

We are also in discussions with other Governments who are seeking to undertake the same type of testing, to understand the approach they have taken to this problem.

There are no regulations in place requiring fur from domestic animals to be labelled as such. Where manufacturers choose to label their products, they must provide accurate information and action can be taken to prevent misleading labelling under the Trade Descriptions Act.

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However, since it is not currently possible to identify products containing specifically domestic animal furs (as explained above), it is also not possible to determine when products have been mislabelled. The Government are working hard to overcome these problems to be able to determine levels of imports of these products, and to identify any labelling problems that may exist.

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