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BAE Systems

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the Export Credits Guarantee Department has been asked (a) to supply information to and (b) to co-operate with the Serious Fraud Office in respect of its investigation into allegations of bribery and false accounting concerning BAE Systems and Saudi Arabian officials. [207743]

Mr. Alexander: It would be wrong to comment on individual investigations, as it would risk prejudicing the investigation. However, ECGD will co-operate fully with any requests for co-operation from authorities investigating allegations of bribery and corruption.

Distance Marketing Directive

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps the Government are taking to comply with the European Distance Marketing Directive. [206626]

Mr. Timms: I have been asked to reply.

The Government consulted in July 2003 and the Financial Services Authority consulted in September 2003 on the approaches to implementing European Directive 2002/65/EC concerning the Distance Marketing of Consumer Financial Services.

The Financial Services (Distance Marketing) Regulations 2004 made Under Statutory Instrument 2004 No. 2095 was laid before Parliament on 5 August 2004 and came into force in the UK on 31 October 2004. The Financial Services Authority amended its Handbook to implement the Distance Marketing of Consumer Financial Services Directive.

Fuel Poverty

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with the (a) Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the (b) Secretary of State for Work and Pensions about (i) fuel poverty, (ii) energy efficiency and the (iii) take-up of energy-related benefits. [208135]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: There is regular contact between the Departments on fuel poverty related issues, energy efficiency and the take up of energy-related benefits. We also work closely with other interested Departments including the Department for Work and Pensions with a view to assisting the fuel poor.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what part of the recent increase in the price of oil was attributed by Ofgem to market sentiment and risk; and what assessment she has made of who the beneficiaries of those elements of the increase are. [206217]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: In October, Ofgem released the final report of its gas price probe, which analysed the potential causes of the significant movements in forward gas prices for winter 2004–05, Ofgem estimated that up to 46 per cent. of the price increases for contracts
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delivering in this period related to apparent higher risk premium and general market sentiment, with the rest attributed to the link to oil prices, declining indigenous production on the UK Continental Shelf, and the cost of storage. The DTI has not made a specific assessment of who benefits from price increases because such an assessment would be necessarily complex and is likely to be quickly out of date.

Post Office Card Account

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many computer failures of the Citibank Post Office card account system there were in 2004; on which dates; and what measures are being taken to prevent such failures. [207977]

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Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 13 January 2005]: The Department of Trade and Industry has no role in the operation of the Post Office card account, which is a commercial matter that falls within the day-to-day responsibility of Post Office Ltd. I have therefore asked the Chief Executive to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Stolen Property

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many civil servants from her Department have (a) faced disciplinary proceedings as a result of allegations of theft, (b) been charged with theft and (c) been dismissed following theft allegations in each year since 1997. [206405]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is as follows:
Staff facing disciplinary proceedings as a result of allegations of theft23310
Staff charged with disciplinary offences relating to allegations of theft23310
Staff dismissed following allegations relating to theft22210

Data prior to 2000 is not available. Detailed information on disciplinary cases is normally retained for a period of five years.

All DTI staff and staff working in DT Executive Agencies are responsible for familiarising themselves with the general standards of conduct set out in departmental guidance. Any breach of the principles of conduct may result in disciplinary action.

Any member of staff who is charged with a criminal offence, or is convicted of such an offence, must inform the Department as soon as possible.



Tom Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department has had with the Albanian Government on provision of information to Albanian women who are considering offers of employment in the UK, with particular reference to the entertainment industry; and if he will make a statement. [208653]

Mr. MacShane: The UK is committed to combating the trafficking of women from Albania to the UK for prostitution. Both bilaterally, and through the European Union, we have repeatedly emphasised that one of the conditions for Albania's signature of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union is progress in tackling organised crime, particularly human trafficking. When my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met the Albanian Foreign Minister last February, he emphasised this and the need for urgent action.

The UK, both bilaterally and within the EU, is offering practical assistance in this area. We are funding vocational training for women in the North and shelters for trafficked women on the coast. We also fund a forensic policing unit in Tirana to provide evidence against the criminals. We contribute 19 per cent. (or £6 million annually) to the European Commission's CARDS assistance programme in Albania. This includes large police and customs assistance programmes to increase Albanian law enforcement capacity.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to raise the issue of atrocities against the (a) Karen, (b) Karenni and (c) Shan peoples of Burma at the United Nations Security Council. [207048]

Mr. Alexander: The UK works closely with its UN partners to promote political reform and full respect for human rights in Burma.

We have raised our concerns about the situation in Burma with our Security Council partners. However, there is no consensus at present to bring Burma before the Security Council.

Atrocities against ethnic groups in Burma have been condemned in successive UK co-sponsored UN Resolutions on Burma.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Burmese regime regarding the attack by the Burmese Army against Karen villages in Hsaw Htee Township, Nyaunglebin District, Karen State, on 14 November; and if he will make a statement. [207050]

Mr. Alexander: We are aware of the report of this attack provided by the Free Burma Rangers, which has been highlighted by Christian Solidarity Worldwide. We have not made representations to the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) about this specific attack. However, the Burmese regime is well aware of our concern about human rights abuses in ethnic minority areas. We are particularly concerned that offensives continue in Karen State despite the ongoing cease-fire talks with the Karen National Union (KNU).
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Human rights violations suffered by persons belonging to ethnic groups have been highlighted by successive highly critical UK and EU co-sponsored UN Resolutions.

Anne Picking: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of the merits of appointing an EU special envoy to Burma. [207746]

Mr. MacShane: We fully support the existing envoys: the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma, Professor Sergio Pinheiro, and the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative, Tan Sri Razali Ismail. These representatives speak for the international community as a whole and we would not wish to do anything that deflected attention from their efforts.

We urge the Burmese regime to allow them to return to Burma. They have a crucial role to play.

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