Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, what prerogatives of the previous Mersey Docks and Harbour Board over the Mersey Littoral were transferred to the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company on its privatisation. 
When the Mersey Docks and Harbour Act 1971 reconstituted the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board as a statutory public company, the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, on 27 July 1971. Section 8 (1) stated that the duty of the Company shall be:
Nigel Griffiths: Compensation is paid in accordance with the claims handling agreements negotiated with the miners' solicitors. The Department pays for solicitors to advise claimants on the offers made to them to ensure they are fair and appropriate.We have paid out over £2.3 billion on the two main schemes.
Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much her Department paid to lawyers for their work in contesting the coal miners chronic obstructive pulmonary disease case (a) up to and (b) since the date of the appeal court judgment in the matter in respect of work dealing with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and vibration white finger. 
Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 8 December 2004]: The Department of Trade and Industry assumed liability for British Coal Corporation health claims from 20 December 1997. Prior to that date British Coal Corporation was responsible for its own legal costs. There have been a number of judgment dates in relation to the coal health litigations and the Department is not therefore able to provide a breakdown of pre and post appeal court judgment.
With regard to costs paid to the claimants solicitors group, the Department is required to negotiate their generic costs on an ongoing basis and to date the sum of £7.8 million (including VAT and disbursements) has been paid for the period December 1997 to April 2002. This does not include trial costs.
Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the average settlement value was of (a) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and (b) vibration white finger cases at the last date for which figures are available; and what assessment she has made of the time it will take to complete all the cases under both schemes. 
Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 8 December 2004]: (a) The average damages for Respiratory Disease on fully settled claims is £7,326. Based on the current flow of claims the last claim is likely to be settled in 2011. However, as the hon. Member is aware, Sir Michael Turner, the judge who oversees the respiratory disease litigation, is currently reviewing proposals for the speeding up of the claims process. Sir Michael has asked the parties to return to court on 21 December for him to review their proposals. Once Sir Michael has made his ruling we will be in a better position to consider an aspirational end date for the processing of claims.
We hope to have completed all offers for VWF general damages (apart from outstanding group three claims) by the end of 2004, and all claims settled by the end of 2005. For Services we hope to complete all medicals by the end of 2006 and to settle all Services claims by 2007.
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been paid in fees to (a) Richmonds solicitors, (b) Rayleys solicitors and (c) the Union of Democratic Mineworkers for vibration white finger and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claims under the coalminers' compensation scheme. 
|Total Solicitors Costs £ million
|Union of Democratic Mineworkers11
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many cases have been submitted by Richmonds solicitors for compensation for vibration white finger and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease under the coalminers' compensation scheme. 
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, when she expects to receive the opinion of the European Commission on the legality of providing state aid to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: On 1 December The European Commission announced a formal investigation into the UK Government's notification in December 2003 of aid to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Under EC law the investigation can take up to 18 months. My officials will work closely with the Commission services to reach a positive outcome within this timeframe.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, what discussions she has had with the European Commission on state funding issues with regard to the financing of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (a) before and (b) after the passing of the Energy Act 2004; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: In December 2003 the UK formally notified the European Commission of its intention to support the creation of the NDA. Since then officials and officials in the UK Permanent Representation in Brussels have been in close contact with Commission services. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, also discussed the matter with former Competition Commissioner Monti.
Most recently we have been in contact with the Commission to discuss the transitional arrangements under which the NDA will start work on 1 April 2005. They have confirmed in their press notice announcing the start of their formal investigation into aid to the NDA that these arrangements do not involve state aid.
9 Dec 2004 : Column 708W
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Department has had extensive discussions with BT about the triggering of premium rate numbers through the internet. The outcome of consultations with ICSTIS are being announced today
John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many representations she has received in the last three months about telephone calls unwittingly triggered through the internet to premium rate numbers; and how many of these involved children.