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12 Mar 2003 : Column 271W—continued

National Minimum Wage

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many enforcement orders have been issued in respect of fair estimate agreements since the introduction of the National Minimum Wage Regulations; and what assessment she has made of the number of fair estimate agreements entered into in that period. [101254]

Alan Johnson [holding answer 6 March 2003]: Since the Inland Revenue have kept details of homeworking cases centrally with its Virtual Homeworking Team (set up in October 2001) there have been two cases where an enforcement notice has been issued where a fair estimate agreement was in place. The Revenue believe it is unlikely that other cases might have occurred prior to that.

The number of fair estimate agreements which individuals have entered into is not known, but anecdotal evidence indicates the take up is low. This is one of the reasons why we are consulting on making changes to these arrangements.

Public Bodies (Arthur Andersen)

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which public bodies sponsored by the Department are headed by former partners from Arthur Andersen. [100743]

Ms Hewitt: The East of England Development Agency is headed by Vincent Watts, a former partner of Andersen Consulting.


Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of the technology to be used in the projects in receipt of the bio-energy grants announced in January 2003 will be UK-sourced. [99371]

Mr. Wilson: We do not keep information on the proportion of project technology in grant applications that is sourced in the UK. We are however keen to promote the capabilities of the UK supply chain in all renewable technologies, and have created the business support team Renewables UK for this purpose.

Tour Operators

Mr. Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with scheduled tour operators in relation to seating and pricing arrangements on aircraft over the last 12 months. [101599]

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Miss Melanie Johnson: I have had no specific discussions with tour operators over the seating and pricing arrangements on aircrafts over the last 12 months. My officials have raised this matter with the Federation of Tour Operators and ABTA. Tour operators who belong to these organisations do always try to seat families and couples close together, and where possible in adjacent seats, whether or not these have been pre-booked. If a tour operator offers and charges for a service which guarantees the seating arrangements, then this is a commercial matter for that operator.

The Civil Aviation Authority are responsible for UK airline safety regulations and they have issued guidelines to airlines on the allocation of seats to family groups. I understand that the CAA has not had any specific discussions with airlines on this issue, although there is continued dialogue between airlines and their assigned CAA inspector regarding all aspects of operational safety and this matter will have been discussed as and when necessary.


Medical Reservists

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many medical reservists there are in the United Kingdom, broken down by speciality. [99086]

Dr. Moonie: The numbers of medical reservists in the Volunteer Reserve Forces broken down by specialty, as at 20 February 2003, are provided as follows: Information in respect of ex-Regular medical personnel with a reserve liability is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

ConsultantsVolunteer reservists
General Medicine19
Genito-Urinary Medicine1
General Surgery29
Obstetrics and Gynaecology13
Orthopaedic Surgery18
Burns and Plastic Surgery5
Accident and Emergency11
Ophthalmic Surgery2
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery11
Ear, Nose and Throat4
Rheumatology and Rehabilitation1
Occupational Medicine1
Public Health Medicine3
General Medical Practitioners/General Duties Medical Officers (including specialists undergoing consultant training)301
General Nursing Duties886
Operating Theatre88
Accident & Emergency108
Intensive Care107
Burns & Plastic Surgery14
Genito-Urinary Medicine4
Registered Mental Nurse102
Special Care Baby Unit2
Nurse Tutor3
Allied Health Professionals
Environmental Health Officer31
Environmental Health Technician7
Laboratory Technician53
Pharmacy Technician7
Operating Department Practitioner56
Medical Support Officers113
Combat Medical Technicians/Medical Assistants1,676
Dental Personnel
General Dental Practitioners38
Dental Technicians3
Dental Support Specialists18
Dental Hygienists2

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Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many medical reservists were found to be unfit for military service in the last period for which figures are available. [91516]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 20 January 2003]: As at 1 January 2003, 28 medical Reservists in the Territorial Army and, as at 28 February 2003,14 medical Reservists in the Royal Auxiliary Royal Air Force were medically unfit to deploy on military operations. The Royal Navy does not hold central records on the medical fitness of medical Volunteer Reservists and none of the Services holds central records on the medical fitness of medical ex-Regular Reservists. The medical fitness of these Reservists is only established on mobilisation when they are required to report to their mobilisation centre following receipt of their call-out notice.

Motor Neurone Disease

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research he has commissioned on the prevalence of motor neurone disease among Gulf War veterans. [101915]

Dr. Moonie: Motor neurone disease (MND) is a rare disease and the Ministry of Defence has not specifically commissioned scientific research into the prevalence of it among United Kingdom veterans of the 1990–91 Gulf Conflict. However, through the independent Medical Research Council (MRC), the Ministry of Defence has funded a controlled study of neuromuscular symptoms experienced by United Kingdom Servicemen. Some findings were published by the researchers in a paper entitled: "Neurophysiologic analysis of neuromuscular symptoms in UK Gulf war veterans" in the journal Neurology on 26 November 2002. The researchers reported that they had found no neurophysiologic evidence for a specific neuromuscular disorder that could be linked to previous deployment to the Gulf. At the Ministry of Defence's request, the MRC will shortly

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provide advice on appropriate areas for future research in the field of Gulf veterans illnesses. The MRC's advice will be published. The MRC is aware of the suggestion that United States Gulf veterans are at greater risk of developing MND than those who did not deploy but the underlying research has not yet been published in the scientific literature. The Ministry of Defence's future Gulf veterans' illnesses research programme will be firmly based on the MRC's recommendations.

Accountancy Services

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the total cost to his Department was for accountancy services in 2002. [101561]

Mr. Ingram: Ministry of Defence expenditure on external assistance (EA), of which accountancy services are a part, is contained in the MOD's annual return of expenditure on external assistance. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House, covering the period 1996–97 to 2000–01 and include expenditure categorised by top level budget holder and trading funds. However, expenditure on accountancy services is not recorded as a specific category of EA and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The return for 2001–02 will be published shortly and figures for 2002–03 will be published once the current financial year has ended.

B-52 Bombers

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what benefits to United Kingdom national defence will accrue from the granting of permission to the United States of landing rights for United States Air Force B-52 bombers. [101993]

Mr. Hoon: As I told the House on the 3 March 2003, Official Report, column 566, I agreed to the United States Air Force deployment at RAF Fairford as part of our continuing contingency preparations for possible military action in Iraq. The Government have made clear on many occasions the threat posed to the United Kingdom by Iraq's continued possession, in contravention of successive UN Security Council Resolutions, of weapons of mass destruction.

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