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12 Feb 2004 : Column 1619W—continued

Grocery Market

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how the (a) Office of Fair Trading and (b) her Department will assess acquisition strategies in the convenience sector of the grocery market. [154261]

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Mr. Sutcliffe: The competition authorities consider each acquisition on a case-by-case basis against the provisions of the Enterprise Act, if it reaches the qualifying thresholds for consideration. The Department of Trade and Industry has no role in this consideration.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what assessment she has made of the impact on the consumer of dominance by large chains of the mainstream grocery market; [154262]

Mr. Sutcliffe: There have been several reports by the Competition Commission over the past few years on the supermarket sector. The Competition Commission's report "Supermarkets: a report on the supply of groceries from multiple stores in the United Kingdom", published on 10 October 2000, found that the market was broadly competitive as far as consumers were concerned.

It is the role of the independent competition authorities to assess the impact of dominance by large chains in the grocery market, and whether or not such dominance may be against the public interest. It is also the responsibility of the competition authorities to ensure that competition rules are not infringed and to investigate any alleged breaches.

Group 3 Employment Cases

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many disputed Group 3 employment cases there are. [149085]

Mr. Sutcliffe: 567 Group 3 claims have entered the disputes procedure to date.

Of these 237 are in informal dispute, 23 are in formal dispute and 307 have now reached conclusion.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry under what circumstances official meetings relating to Indonesia have been attended by the right hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson); for what purposes; and if she will make a statement. [152696]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 3 February 2004]: I am told that my right hon. Friend the Member for Hartlepool has not attended official meetings relating to Indonesia held by the Department of Trade and Industry.

Information Technology (Women)

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what target her Department has set for the number of women working in information and communication technology; and what strategy her Department has to achieve this target. [153583]

Mr. Timms: The Department of Trade and Industry does not have any targets specific to women working in information and communication technology, but is working to increase the participation of women in this

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sector, as well s others through the work of a new dedicated Resource Centre for Women in science, engineering and technology (SET). The Resource Centre is part of the Government's Strategy, published in April 2003 as a response to Baroness Greenfield's SET Fair Report. The Government will look to the new Resource Centre to carry out specific tasks in support of its overarching objective to work with employers to improve the position of women in SET: recognition for good SET employers; the sharing of good employment practice; disseminating and sharing information; setting up and maintaining an expert women's database; maintaining and disseminating statistics; raising the profile of women in SET; pump-priming innovation through developing, with others, support for initiatives such as mentoring, networking, speaker's bursaries and mobility issues; supporting returners; and coordinating the work of women in science organisations. It will draw on the experience of women and women in science organisations to do this and co-ordinate their activity to achieve critical mass.

The JIVE Consortium has been chosen to run the resource centre. This is a consortium of Sheffield Hallam University, Bradford College, the Open University and Cambridge University through its WiSETI (Women in Science, Engineering and Technology) Project. Between them they have extensive knowledge of, and standing in, all the sectors of SET (including ITEC) and the built environment. The Government is providing funding of £800,000 per annum to cover all the activities of the centre. Additional funding of £500,000 is available to the resource centre for a returners' scheme, to gather feedback on existing schemes as soon as it can, and develop a strategic plan for the future investment of these additional funds. DfES will also contribute £200,000 to the Resource Centre for schemes aimed at undergraduates. The Consortium members proposed to deliver a Resource Centre that represents all sectors in which there are high levels of occupational segregation for women in science, engineering, technology, and the built environment and intend to be relevant to all women whether working at professional, technician or craft level.

It will be important for the centre to work in partnership with professional SET bodies and others in the SET community, with organisations such as the CBI, the TUC, large and small employers, and the Sector Skills Councils (SSCs). The new centre will be expected to raise funds from other sources both private and public. It is expected that organisations that want partnership with an support from the resource centre will contribute resources, both to specific projects and to allow the centre to operate more widely, to maximise the leverage of the initial public finding to the centre.

To increase the number of women who can maintain their SET carers and are able to return after a career break, as well as achieve their potential through promotion and engagement in policy making circles, they need access to opportunities for self- development, and to meet people who can introduce them to these opportunities. Mentoring is acknowledged as a key tool in personal development and empowerment. The Promotion SET for Women Unit is funding a pilot three-year national mentoring scheme for women in SET. The Project is being delivered through two

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organisations—the Women's Engineering Society and the Association of Women in Science and Engineering. Four blue chip companies including Astra Zeneca, BAE Systems, Demag Delaval Industrial Turbomachinery Ltd. and Ford are also supporting the project. The pilot mentoring scheme will use industrial mentoring training programmes in order to train mentors and prepare mentees. They project is well under way and over 60 mentors and mentees have been matched, and mentoring has commenced.

Milk Marque

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what assessment she has made of the impact of the Competition Report into the operation of the former dairy producer co-operative Milk Marque; [153484]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Following publication of the Monopoly and Mergers Commission report "Milk: a report on the supply in Great Britain of raw cows milk" in July 1999, the Milk Marque co-operative voluntarily split into three independent enterprises—Axis, Zenith and Milk Link. All three are still operating, although Axis and Zenith subsequently merged with other enterprises and now trade as Dairy Farmers of Britain and First Milk respectively.

Miners' Compensation

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 20 January 2004, Official Report, column 1174W, on miners' compensation, for what reason the initial discussions about a direct agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers were not pursued. [154476]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 11 February 2004]: In May 1998 my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle) invited the NUM to contribute to the Claims Handling Arrangements through their solicitors, Raleys. Raleys, although not one of the firms chosen to negotiate directly with the Department, were members of the Claimants' Solicitors Group represented by these firms. Raleys were kept informed and asked to contribute to the negotiations on numerous occasions throughout the process.

The NUM declined this opportunity and Mr. Scargill made it clear in a letter of 20 May 1999 that he would

The NUM have subsequently declined the offer of further meetings.

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the average payment in compensation received was in cases fully settled under the chest disease compensation scheme by claimants (a) who have had their claims processed by the Union of Democratic Mineworkers Nottingham section subsidiary company Vendside and (b) who have had their claims processed by all other solicitors in England. [148311]

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Mr. Timms [holding answer 15 January 2004]: The average full and final payment received by claimants through the UDM is £5,213 and the average full and final payment received by claimants through all other solicitors in England is £6,810.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she will announce the minimum payment under the Miners' Compensation Fund; and if she will make a statement. [154266]

Nigel Griffiths: At the court hearing on 3 February 2004 the judge made it clear that if offers were in line with the Agreement, following the High Court judgment, then the issue of low-value offers was for the solicitors to consider further, not the DTI.

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