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9 Dec 2003 : Column 444W—continued

Canada Lottery

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action the Government are taking to protect people from being defrauded by people purporting to represent the Canadian Lottery. [142856]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) launched a consumer awareness campaign on 3 December in response to the increase in telephone marketing scams originating from Canada.

The OFT is working closely with the Canadian authorities to ensure prompt and effective action is taken against these scams.

The campaign includes a telephone hotline set-up by the OFT to collect evidence which the Canadian authorities can use to prosecute the scam operators.

Employment Rights

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what representations she has received from (a) overseas companies and (b) British companies regarding the rights of overseas workers to pursue unfair dismissal claims against their employers under the Employment Rights Act 1996; [142839]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Department has received representations on behalf of one company with bases in Great Britain and overseas.

The Employment Rights Act 1996 confers the right to complain of unfair dismissal. When territorial limits in the Act were abolished in 1999, the Government's intention was that employees working overseas would be able to claim unfair dismissal only if there was a proper connection with Great Britain. The employment Appeal Tribunal has confirmed that this is the test which the employment tribunals must apply.

European Molecular Biology Organisation

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what UK contributions at current prices have been made to the European Molecular Biology Organisation in (a) each of the last three years and (b) the current year; what contributions are proposed for the next three years; and what assessment she has made of the benefits the UK has gained from its contributions. [141753]

Ms Hewitt: The UK government, through grant- in-aid to the Medical Research Council (MRC), contributes to the European Molecular Biology Conference (EMBC) which is the funding body for the

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European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO). The UK's contributions for the last three years and the current year are as follows:


YearActual contributionContribution at 2003 prices

EMBC management is proposing an increase, over the next three years, of around 18 per cent. extra in 2004 rising to 44 per cent. extra in 2006 (about £700,000 per annum extra for the MRC). This is currently under discussion with EMBC and the UK contributions are not therefore known.

It is a matter for the MRC to decide/agree what level of subscription they should pay to EMBC, taking into account other commitments and priorities. They undertake periodic reviews of the relevant EMBO schemes in preparation for EMBC budget discussions. The main benefits of participation are association with, and access to, prestigious and well-run fellowships schemes that have added value to the development of the European molecular biology.

Family Friendly Employment

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what (a) training and (b) support is provided to managers to help them to institute family-friendly employment procedures; [141886]

Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 8 December 2003]: An extensive package of support and guidance to help businesses implement and benefit from the laws for working parents has accompanied their introduction in April this year.

This includes:

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All guidance material is accessible through the DTI website:

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps the Government are taking to promote the take-up of family friendly options at work by men. [142659]

Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 8 December 2003]: In April this year, the Government introduced new laws for working parents which cover fathers as well as mothers, including the right for fathers of children aged under six or disabled children under 18 to request flexible working and the right to two weeks paid paternity leave. These new rights together with the existing rights to parental leave and time off for dependants recognise that men increasingly want to play a greater role in the family and provides them with more choices for doing so.

To facilitate take-up, the Government are running an on-going awareness raising campaign which includes national newspaper adverts targeted specifically at fathers. In addition posters have been circulated to CAB's GP's surgeries and libraries. We are working in partnership with stakeholders to raise awareness. We provided support to the charity, Fathers Direct for their pilot magazine aimed at new fathers—'Dad', launched in five different maternity units in April 2003 and distributed to all new fathers coming into contact with those units.

The Government's Work-Life balance campaign also encourages employers to adopt best practice and provide family-friendly policies right across the work force.

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Gas Bills

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the average household gas bill was in (a) England and (b) each English region in each financial year since 1996–97. [142273]

Mr. Timms: Information on average gas bills is regularly published by my Department in "Quarterly Energy Prices", available at prices/index.shtml. The available information is as follows:

Average annual domestic gas bills: England and Wales

Standard creditDirect debitPrepayment

(29) Provisional bills for 2003 cover consumption from Q4 2002 to Q1 2003 and are then grossed up to take account of Q2 2003 and Q3 2003.


1. Figures for 1996 and 1997 are not available for England and Wales as the survey from which regional information is produced began in 1998.

2. Bills relate to total bill received in the year e.g. covering consumption from Q4 of the previous year to Q3 of the named year.

3. All bills are calculated using an annual consumption of 18,000 kWh. Figures are inclusive of VAT.

Regional annual average domestic gas bills (England and Wales)

Standard credit
West Midlands317312297296313319
South East314311296295311317
North Western314311295294309316
North East309312294294309314
East Midlands316312292290309309
South West312312299290312319
Direct debit
West Midlands280271265268284287
South East276269262270279286
North Western277267267268283285
North East271268263268282280
East Midlands278266261264281285
South West275268265261281288
West Midlands331318312309327332
South East331317311309327331
North Western331318311309326331
North East331319312309327330
East Midlands331316312309326330
South West330318312309327333


Regions quoted are Gas Local Distribution Zones

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