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21 Jan 2004 : Column 1282W—continued

EU Tarrifs/Quotas

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what quantitative assessment she has made of the likely financial benefit to the least developed countries of the admission by Europe of non-armament imports free of tariffs and quotas. [149133]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: None. The loss of income for the EU budget arising from the special arrangements for Least Developed Countries of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (known as Everything-but-Arms, EBA) has been costed by the European Commission at Euro239 million in 2001, the first year of the scheme. The loss of income for the previous year, before the special arrangements came into effect, was Euro190 million.

European Directives

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her answer of 7 January, Official Report, column 380W, on Posting of Workers Directive, what research she has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the wages and conditions enjoyed by migrant workers in the UK under the Posting of Workers Directive compared to permanent British workers. [148036]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Government undertakes regular surveys into the wages and conditions of workers in the UK, although it does not explicitly make a distinction between migrant and non-migrant workers. In December 2002 a joint Home Office and Department for Work and Pensions report, "Migrants in the UK: their characteristics and labour market outcomes and impacts" found that migrants (defined as the foreign born) earn approximately 19 per cent. more than non-migrants.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research she has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on breaches of the Working Time Directive in the UK, with particular reference to (i) compulsory signing of opt-outs, (ii) pressure on staff to sign opt-outs, (iii) workplaces where the law is ignored, (iv) staff illegally asked to opt out of their rights to rest breaks and night work limits and (v) sending new staff opt-in and opt-out forms; and if she will make a statement. [148052]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The department has commissioned a range of research looking at the Working Time Directive in the UK. The evidence suggests that the

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majority of UK workers are in workplaces complying with the Working Time Regulations. However, there are some areas of concern.

A Survey of Workers' Experiences of the Working Time Regulations commissioned by the department in 2001 shows that just under a quarter of 'long hours' workers who have not signed an opt-out perceived employer pressure to work long hours. A second piece of research published by DTI in 2003, the Business Context to Long Hours Working, suggests that in establishments which had sustained long hours working, around three-quarters had no employees sign the opt-out.

The research commissioned does not specifically look at whether staff have been illegally asked to optout of their rights to rest breaks and night work limits. However, the Survey of Workers' Experiences of the Working Time Regulations found that approximately one in 10 workers 'without full rest breaks' thought they had experienced employer pressure to work without full rest breaks, and a similar proportion of 'night workers' felt pressured to work long hours at night.

Other research published by DTI in 2003 looking at the Implementation of the Working Time Regulations: a follow up study, reported that one case study employer, an engineering company, had made the signing of an opt-out agreement a condition of employment for new starters who worked nights.

I am ready to look at suggestions for improving the operation of working time law, including concerns over misuse of the opt-out to make sure it works properly. I recently wrote to the CBI and TUC inviting them to discuss what we may offer to do to meet the concerns identified in the European Commission Communication on working time.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the value to UK (a) employers and (b) employees of the UK allowing an opt-out to the Working Time Directive. [148053]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The opt-out from the weekly working time limits is valuable as it provides flexibility for employers and the choice for employees to work longer hours if they want to. Without the opt-out, employers would have to reduce the hours of some of their workers. This could cause problems for both employers and employees. A recent study The Business Context to Long Hours Working published by my department in 2003 shows that employers thought the most common barrier to reducing the hours of staff was the needs of the business and workload (55 per cent. of respondents cited this), second to this was the concern that existing staff may resist the reduction in hours as it could limit their choice to work these hours and a reduction in their overtime pay (22 per cent.).

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will place in the Library a copy of the research document commissioned by her Department on The use and necessity of Article 18(b)(1) of the Working Time Directive in the United Kingdom. [149013]

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Mr. Sutcliffe: The research document in question was not commissioned by my Department, but by the European Commission. They have not published it, but I understand they can provide copies of it on request.

Home Security Systems

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to prevent companies selling alarm systems from gaining access to homes by claiming to be carrying out a security check. [149346]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Government are concerned about the practices adopted by some doorstep traders and have welcomed the Office of Fair Trading's investigation of the doorstep selling market. The investigation report is expected in the next couple of months. Recommendations resulting from the investigation will be considered very carefully.

Insolvency Service

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the administrative costs were of the Insolvency Service in each year since 1997; and if she will break down these costs for 2003–04 by main budget head. [147802]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Expenditure of the Insolvency Service as reported in its Annual Report and Accounts since 1997 was.

£000

YearExpenditure
1997–9878,538
1998–9978,159
1999–200080,512
2000–0180,314
2001–0281,840
2002–0390,332

Forecast budgeted expenditure for 2003–04 based on Department of Trade and Industry main budget headings are:

£000

BudgetForecast
Pay48,000
Accommodation10,400
GAE10,600
Programme16,450
Inter Department (non cash)6,500
Capital2,925
Non cash accounting adjustments5,000
Total99,875

Note:

The Insolvency Service merged with The Redundancy Payments Service on 1 April 2003. Figures for 2003–04 therefore include the budgeted costs of The Redundancy Payments Service whereas those for prior years do not.


Protectionism (Labelling)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what evidence she has collated on the use of national and regional labelling schemes as a protectionist barrier to trade. [149073]

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Mr. Mike O'Brien: There is no central body of information listing national and regional labelling schemes. However, we work closely with the European Commission to secure the removal or amelioration of labelling schemes that are unnecessarily trade restrictive.

Research Funding

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the funding for (a) the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils and (b) the grant-in-aid funding allocated to the (i) Biotechnology and

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Biological Sciences Research Council, (ii) Economic and Social Research Council, (iii) Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, (iv) Medical Research Council, (v) Natural Environment Research Council and (vi) Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council in 2003–04 as set out in her Departmental Report 2003; and what payments have been made to each council since 1997. [147796]

Ms Hewitt: The 2002 Spending Review resulted in the largest increases in the Science Budget for over a decade, with year-on-year growth of 10 per cent. in real terms from 2003–04. Cash 1 Grant-in-Aid payments to each of the Research Councils for each financial year from April 1997 are set out in the table.

£000

Allocation Actual
2003–042002–032001–022000–011999–20001998–991997–98
CCLRC(25)83,44715,6079,1814,0752,0001,4621,206
BBSRC267,649241,510213,874211,991195,545185,739189,022
ESRC94,58482,96373,64771,80070,87267,50665,227
EPSRC463,224473,534444,023413,552404,796379,444386,276
MRC387,993365,136356,248319,651304,538284,098292,721
NERC286,359205,677187,671178,850176,715173,967166,150
PPARC259,062235,540210,282205,774186,680209,052197,869

(24) figures shown in the Departmental Report 2003 are on a resource basis and are not directly comparable with those above. Figures are not available on a consistent resource basis for the whole of the period shown.

(25) figures also reflect changes to the structure and responsibilities of CCLRC following its Quinquennial Review, published in April 2002, including responsibility for UK subscriptions to the Institut Laue Langevin and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble.



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