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4 Dec 2003 : Column 116W—continued


Aircraft Noise

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the total (a) area and (b) population affected by aircraft noise is within (i) 57 Leq contour, (ii) 63 Leq contour and (iii) 69 Leq contour and above at (A) Belfast International Airport and (B) Belfast City Airport. [141667]

Mr. Spellar: The information requested is set out in the following table:

57 dBA Leq63 dBA Leq69 dBA Leq
Belfast International Airport
Area (km(2))9.731
Belfast City Airport
Area (km(2))


The above data relate to the year 1999 and are the latest available material.

Flu Vaccination

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what percentage of those eligible for an influenza vaccination in Northern Ireland have received one; and what steps he is taking to increase take-up of the vaccination. [140809]

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Angela Smith: From commencement of 2003–04 flu vaccination campaign to 31 October 2003, 56.7 per cent. of the over 65 population in NI have received flu vaccination. This is up on the same period of 2002–03, when the figure was 56.3 per cent. In the under 65 "at risk" group for the period to 31 October, 41.4 per cent. of these have received flu vaccination. This is up on the same period of 2002–03, when the figure was 39.7 per cent.

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety ran the Influenza Immunisation Campaign. This included a TV advertisement and the vast majority of those eligible for immunisation also received a personal invite from their GP along with a detailed information leaflet. In October the Department also issued a second letter to GPs, Boards, Trusts advising that the influenza virus was circulating and exhorting them to take urgent action to encourage uptake of the vaccine, in particular among at risk children. Additional interviews for TV and radio encouraged those eligible to get the flu vaccine. At local levels, HSS Trusts and GPs took action to increase the uptake.

Irish Marine Environment Report

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the Department contributed to the research reported on in the report, Radioactivity Monitoring of the Irish Marine Environment 2000 and 2001, released in May by the Radiation Protection Institute of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on research collaboration between his Office and the RPII. [141673]

Angela Smith: The Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland did not contribute to the research reported in the report, "Radioactivity Monitoring of the Irish Marine Environment 2000 and 2001", released in May by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland.

The Department has undertaken a number of collaborative studies with the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland and University College Dublin since 1990. These studies looked at artificial radioactivity in Carlingford Lough, Lough Foyle and Strangford Lough and confirmed that contamination levels in the Northern Ireland environment are of negligible radiological significance.


Air-to-air Refuelling

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the joint-venture bid by Boeing and BAE Systems to provide air-to-air refuelling to the RAF. [140521]

Jacqui Smith: Boeing and BAE Systems (with SERCO and Spectrum Capital) make up the Tanker and Transport Service Company (TTSC), one of the bidding consortia for MOD's Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) competition. The competition is on-going and it would therefore be inappropriate to make a statement. I have, however, recently met with both consortia concerned (AirTanker and TTSC) to discuss the UK industrial implications of their respective bids.

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Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which British companies have investments in Burma. [141636]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 2 December 2003]: The two largest UK investors in Burma, Premier Oil and British American Tobacco, have agreed to withdraw from Burma. British investment is now minimal; a number of British tour operators have links with Burmese travel companies and Sea Containers/Orient Express operate cruises in Burma. I have however written to ABTA to suggest that travel operators promoting Burma, should think twice before proceeding.

Company Law

Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has in the company law review to ensure that company law and industrial and provident society law are brought into line; and if she will make a statement. [141485]

Jacqui Smith: The Company Law Review (CLR) focussed on core company law and did not extend to industrial and provident societies.

The Industrial and Provident Societies Act 2002 enables the Treasury to update industrial and provident society legislation in line with company law, following a change in company law.

In order to provide for a strategic, consistent and up-to-date approach between companies and societies, the general modernisation of industrial and provident society legislation will be considered by my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury in the light of new companies legislation following the Company Law Review.

Cross-border Mergers

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions her Department has had with (a) her European counterparts and (b) the European Commission regarding new proposals for an EC directive on cross-border mergers; what the outcome of those discussions has been; and if she will make a statement. [140526]

Jacqui Smith: UK representatives have met with European counterparts and the Commission during the past 12 months in both Council and Commission Working Groups and in informal meetings to discuss the proposed cross-border mergers Directive, which is a part of the EU Action Plan on Company Law and Corporate Governance.

The new proposal for an EC Directive on Cross-Border Mergers was published on 18 November 2003.

Electricity Supplies

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what responsibility (a) the Government, (b) the regulator and (c) electricity suppliers have for maintaining electricity supplies in the event of severe winter weather. [141851]

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Mr. Timms: Legal responsibility for energy security is shared by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Ofgem. The Secretary of State is responsible for setting the overall regulatory framework for the supply of electricity. A key part of that framework is set out in section 3A of the Electricity Act 1989 as amended by the Utilities Act 2000 and includes the objectives "to protect the interests of consumers". To this end the Secretary of State has made a new statutory instrument (The Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002) requiring electricity distribution companies to prevent interruption of supply as far as is reasonably practical.

Electricity for domestic consumers is provided through their contracts with electricity supply companies, which are trading organisations, not responsible for the electricity infrastructure such as overhead lines. The local infrastructure is the responsibility of electricity distribution companies. In each electricity distribution region the physical supply of electricity to customers is the responsibility of a monopoly Distribution Network Operator (DNO), regulated through an Ofgem licensing system. The Secretary of State lays down the Standard Licence Conditions. Enforcement of the licence conditions is for Ofgem.

Euratom Programme

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on how the Euratom programme will provide opportunities for research that may help support the domestic skills base. [141486]

Mr. Timms: The Euratom programme covers both fission and fusion research and includes areas of research, like radiation protection, that the Nuclear Skills Group (NSG) 1 indicated might face a domestic skills shortage in the future. It allows the UK to be part of large scale cutting edge international projects like the fusion International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). The programme provides opportunities for UK researchers to collaborate with other EU research groups encouraging the spread of best practice. It has a role to play in maintaining expertise and attracting younger scientists in a sector currently facing considerable change.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much the Government have contributed to (a) Euratom and (b) Euratom nuclear fusion research and development programmes in each year since 1997. [141487]

Mr. Timms: The EU budget is not disaggregated at project/spending level to show national contributions by members states. However, Euratom spending forms part of the UK's annual contribution to the overall EC

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budget. The following table gives the UK's financial share after abatement to the EC budget for the years 1997–2003 1 .

UK percentage share

The following table sets out the European Commission budgets for the total Euratom and Euratom fusion programmes (GBP millions, 2003 prices 1 ).

Total EuratomOf which fusion programme:


Figures do not include Euratom loans, which are financed separately from the budget.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much financial support the UK has received from Euratom for nuclear fission research in each year since 1997; and if she will make a statement on research projects supported by Euratom. [141489]

Mr. Timms: The European Commission figures on the final use of funding for the FP5 Nuclear Fission and Radiation Protection programme (1998–2002) provide an indication of opportunities that the programme brings to UK researchers. In FP5, the EC funded a total of 289 projects at a cost of 167.2 MEuro. UK participations totaled 266 and those participants received 21.6 MEuro of the available funding. Only France and Germany had a greater number of participations. Commission funding is paid direct to researchers and the UK Government hold no record of these payments.

The Government take a proactive approach in the negotiation of the Euratom Programmes and content of both FP5 Euratom and the new FP6 Euratom programme (2002–06) broadly match UK interests.

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