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European Constitution

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the United Kingdom's policy is in the negotiations on the new European Constitution on the integration and scope of Euratom within the Constitution's framework. [147023]

Mr. Timms: The Convention on the Future of Europe proposed that the Euratom Treaty should remain separate from a new Constitutional Treaty for the EU. The Government was content with this as a basis for discussions in the context of the negotiations at the IGC. During the negotiations, a draft Protocol was considered which would be annexed to the new Constitutional Treaty, incorporating some of its institutional and financial provisions into the Euratom Treaty. As the IGC did not reach final agreement at the December Council, the Irish Presidency are now looking at how to take negotiations forward and will be reporting back at the Spring Council.

European Standard Funds

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will publish the mid-term verification of additionality document on the European Standard Funds submitted by her Department to the European Commission. [147727]

Jacqui Smith: There is no requirement and therefore no intention to publish the mid-term additionality verification documents produced by DTI for the UK Objective 1 areas.

The verification data supplied to the Commission for the mid-term additionality exercise showed that average annual expenditure in the period 2000–02 was equal to or better than that forecast in the 2000–06 ex-ante tables published in the original Single Programming Documents for each Objective 1 area.

Flexible Working

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps her Department is taking to ensure that workers who take up flexible working options do not suffer from (a) poor career prospects and (b) poor job security [146947]

Mr. Sutcliffe: According to the Labour Force Survey Spring 2003, 5.5 million employees work through some form of flexible working arrangement—equivalent to 22 per cent. of employees.

The Department surveyed employers and employees on work-life balance in January 2003, and specifically addressed the issues of job security and progression:

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The Government are seeking to affect a culture change in the workplace where flexible working is seen as the norm and there is no question of poor career prospects or job security. We are looking to do this in two main ways:

The DTI is collecting evidence from a number of sources to monitor the impact of its action to promote flexible working practices:

The information collected will contribute towards the review of the flexible working law that the Government have said will begin in 2006. This provides time for the legislation to bed down and have effect, alongside the on-going promotion of best practice. Collected information will also provide early warning of any problems or unintended consequences associated to flexible working and for the development of future policy.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how her Department plans to promote flexible working, with particular reference to male workers. [146948]

Mr. Sutcliffe: In addition to the detail I provided in my answer to my hon. Friend on 5 December 2003, Official Report, column 446W, I can confirm that as part of the on-going awareness raising campaign, adverts specifically targeting fathers are appearing in national newspapers throughout January, covering news and sport sections, with another burst of activity planned for March.

The Work-Life Balance Challenge Fund has also recently supported projects promoting flexible working in oil and engineering companies, which are traditionally considered to be male dominated industrial sectors.

Friction Dynamex

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received following (a) the dismissal of workers at Friction Dynamex and (b) their failure to receive money awarded to them by the industrial tribunal; and if she will make a statement. [146829]

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Mr. Sutcliffe: Throughout the dispute at Friction Dynamics and the subsequent tribunal process representations have been received on a number of issues from the TUC, the workers involved, the T&G union representing the workers, other interested unions, MPs and individuals.


Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research her Department has carried out into the use of washable solvents in aerosol paint sprays as a means of combating graffiti. [142840]

Alun Michael: I have been asked to reply.

No such research has been carried out.

Industrial Disease

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the number of claims that could be lodged for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; and if she will make a statement. [147200]

Nigel Griffiths: As of 4 January 2004, we have received over 383,000 claims and these continue to come in at a rate of around 8,000 per week. If it continued at the present rate, the level of claims will reach approximately 480,000.

Industrial Tribunals

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many workers who won their cases, since 1997, at industrial tribunals have failed to receive payments awarded; what sums have been defaulted upon in each case; what steps she is taking to resolve the problem; and if she will make a statement. [146513]

Mr. Sutcliffe: I regret that the information requested is not available. Individuals who do not receive sums awarded to them by employment tribunals are entitled to enforce those awards through the civil courts.


Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made since September on negotiations with the European Commission to reinstate the Generalised System of Preferences in Iraq. [145606]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The UK has continued to make representation to the European Commission on Iraq's eligibility under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), conveying the UK Government's wish to re-instate GSP in Iraq as soon as possible. The UK will continue to press for progress on this matter. DG Trade in the Commission have indicated their agreement of the importance of re-establishing GSP in Iraq as soon as possible.

With Iraq, the situation remains the same and a suitable body to take responsibility for the necessary administration of GSP has still to be identified.

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Local Newspapers

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of regional and local newspapers are owned by the five largest newspaper groups; and what proportion were owned by those groups in (a) 1990 and (b) 1997. [146822]

Mr. Sutcliffe: This information cannot be provided from official statistics. However, some industry statistics relating to the question are available through the Newspaper Society.

Manufacturing Advisory Service

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the work of the Manufacturing Advisory Service within Coventry and the West Midlands since it was established; and what steps her Department is taking to ensure more manufacturers engage with their local MAS centres. [147242]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 12 January 2004]: Since its launch in September 2002, the Manufacturing Advisory Service's regional centre in the West Midlands has achieved considerable success as a source of advice and support for manufacturers. It has responded to 2,377 inquiries from firms seeking advice, visited 895 companies to carry out initial health checks and completed 395 in depth consultancies in the West Midlands. It has worked with 88 companies in Coventry and 200 in the Coventry and Warwickshire Business Link catchment area, accounting for 4.3 per cent. and 9.9 per cent. respectively of the total number of manufacturers it has engaged with.

All the regional centres of the service have active programmes for marketing their services to local manufacturing firms. This, combined with the excellent reputation that the service has achieved among manufacturers, has resulted in a sustained and substantial increase in demand for its services. So far the MAS has dealt with approximately 15,500 inquiries and carried out over 4,500 diagnostic and advisory visits. The actual total value added it has given UK manufacturers is now approaching £30 million.

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