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4 Feb 2004 : Column 878W—continued

Minimum Wage

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much money has been spent investigating companies suspected of having broken the rules on the minimum wage in each year since its introduction. [148173]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Inland Revenue enforce the minimum wage on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The following table gives details of the funding the DTI has provided the Revenue in each year since the introduction of the minimum wage in April 1999.

£ million
1999–20003.5 plus 1.9 start-up costs
2000–013.5
2001–024.7
2002–035.85
2003–04 (forecast)5.7

Funding in the first two years did not cover overheads, including accommodation costs. Three new

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compliance teams were established in 2002–03, as were a number of local enforcement pilot projects to help improve compliance with the minimum wage.

National Power Provision

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures she is taking to ensure the integrity of the national power grid. [151260]

Jacqui Smith: Responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the national transmission system rests with the National Grid Company (NGC). NGC have a number of important statutory and licence duties relating to the development and maintenance of their system. The duty for enforcing these licence and statutory obligations rests with Ofgem.

Officials in my Engineering Inspectorate monitor power failures attributed to the national grid on an ongoing basis and they liaise with staff in the transmission companies to ensure adequate remedial measures are put in place. At my request, Inspectors recently completed a formal investigation of the major interruptions on 28 August and 5 September 2003 and the conclusions and recommendations have been shared with the companies. Inspectors will be liaising with the companies over the coming months to ensure the recommendations are implemented.

Nuclear Industry

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps are being taken to explore the licensing of new nuclear technologies in the United Kingdom. [152041]

Ms Hewitt: No steps are being taken by Government. It is for industry to bring forward any applications for a licence under the provisions of the Nuclear Installations Act 1965.

Online CD/DVD Sales

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the Government's policy is on companies selling online competitively-priced CDs and DVDs to residents of the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement. [152416]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Provided companies are acting legally, online sales of CDs and DVDs will increase competition, providing consumers in the UK with more choice.

Pornographic Messages

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment has been made of the use of telephone transferred charge calls to propogate unwanted pornographic messages; and if she will make a statement. [152541]

Mr. Sutcliffe: None. However the law relating to pornography applies online as it does offline. Unsolicited emails and reverse SMS messages advertising pornographic services are prohibited by the regulations implementing a recent EC Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications, and which are enforced by the Information Commissioner's office. The

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mobile operators are drawing up a code of practice to cover new forms of content including pornography. Premium rate services continue to be regulated by the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (ICSTIS).

Post Office Banking Services

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the outcome was of discussions with major high street banks on the provision of banking services at post offices; and if she will make a statement. [151989]

Mr. Sutcliffe: As a result of constructive discussions with the major financial institutions, all the high street banks and the Nationwide Building Society are making a very positive contribution to universal banking services, providing customers with free access to basic bank accounts at post offices, and making significant financial contribution (£180 million) to the cost of running the Post Office card account.

Post Office Closures

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to ensure that there is adequate consultation with relevant hon. Members and other interested parties when an urban post office is nominated for closure. [150616]

Jacqui Smith: Proposals for closures of sub-post offices under the urban network reinvention programme are put out to public consultation, including relevant Members of Parliament, in accordance with the code of practice agreed between Post Office Ltd. and Postwatch. In preparing closure proposals, Post Office Ltd. collect a range of information relevant to the provision of post office services in an area. This includes local authority plans, environmental and transport information, local shopping habits and other local developments and features. With the move to area plans, the public consultation period has been extended from four to six weeks during which comments and representations, including new or additional information, can be submitted for consideration by Post Office Ltd. before they reach a final decision. Recent experience of the programme has shown that there is a clear need for Post Office Ltd. to respond promptly to issues raised during the consultation and to explain its decisions more fully. The Government has impressed on the company the urgent need to improve its performance on this aspect of the programme.

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment has been made of the adequacy of the Urban Reinvention Programme's consultation process for closure proposals. [150816]

Jacqui Smith: Recent experience of the programme has shown that there is a clear need for Post Office Ltd. to respond promptly to issues raised during the consultation and to explain its decisions more fully. The Government has impressed on the company the urgent need to improve its performance on this aspect of the programme. There is also an escalation procedure agreed between Post Office Ltd. and Postwatch for

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handling disputed proposals which can be applied in the small number of cases where Postwatch opposes the closure proposal.

Public Bodies (Membership)

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry who the members of the (a) North West Industrial Development Board, (b) South West Industrial Development Board and (c) Eastern Region Industrial Development Board were on 1 January; what their term of office is in each case; and what their remuneration is. [151300]

Jacqui Smith: The information is as follows:

(a) North West Industrial Development Board consists of the following members.

MembersPeriod of appointment
John Alcock1 January 2001 to 31 May 2004
Mrs. Lorraine Clinton—Chair1 May 2001 to 30 March 2004
Duncan McLellan1 December 2002 to 30 November 2005
Raymond Charles McManus1 August 2003 to 31 July 2006
William Joseph Mullarkey1 January 2004 to 31 December 2006
Kirit Pathak1 January 2002 to 31 December 2004
Ruth Isabel Port1 August 2003 to 31 July 2006
George Verghese1 December 2002 to 30 November 2005
Mrs. Eva Wisemark1 September 2003 to 31 August 2006
Marcus Wood1 January 2004 to 31 December 2006

(b) South West Industrial Development Board consists of the following members:

MembersPeriod of Appointment
Sue Astbury1 January 2003 to 31 December 2005
Ruth Bagley1 January 2004 to 31 December 2006
Peter Alan Courts1 January 2003 to 31 December 2005
John Crownshaw1 January 2004 to 31 December 2006
Ian Robert Douglas1 January 2002 to 31 December 2004
Neville Gibson1 January 2002 to 31 December 2004
Alan Neil Hayman1 January 2004 to 31 December 2004
Denise Major1 January 2003 to 31 December 2005
Richard Morgan1 January 2003 to 31 December 2005
Rama Warren Nand-Lal1 January 2004 to 31 December 2006
Victoria Picketing1 January 2004 to 31 December 2006
Nigel Randall1 January 2003 to 31 December 2005
Brian Sherwin1 January 2002 to 31 December 2004
Terence Alan Slater—Chair1 January 2002 to 31 December 2004
Barbara Speirs1 January 2002 to 31 December 2004

(c) Eastern Region Industrial Development Board consists of the following members:

MembersPeriod of appointment
David Richard Baggott1 January 2003 to 31 December 2005
Alan Davies1 January 2004 to 31 December 2006
Robert Downing1 July 2003 to 3 June 2006
Martin James Gould1 January 2002 to 31 December 2004
Keith Hamilton1 January 2004 to 31 December 2006
Terence Ralph Hill1 July 2003 to 30 June 2006
Fiona Hoskins1 August 2003 to 31 July 2005
Shaz Khan1 January 2003 to 31 December 2005
Hugh Lawson1 January 2003 to 31 December 2005
Elaine Oddie—Chair1 July 2003 to 30 June 2004
Laurence John Russen1 July 2003 to 30 June 2006
Mike Smith1 January 2003 to 31 December 2005

Members of the Industrial Development Boards are not remunerated.

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