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8 Jun 2005 : Column 574W—continued

Miners' Compensation

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the accuracy of analyses prepared for his Department of the number of deceased mineworkers' damages claims for (a) Nottinghamshire, (b) Derbyshire and (c) Leicestershire; and if he will make a statement. [1990]

Malcolm Wicks: Regional statistics in respect of live and deceased claims for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease classify the claim according to postal town codes of the solicitor handling the claim.

The Department is aware that the ratio of live to deceased cases in Notts/Derbys/Leics is well out of line with that of other regions. As at 31 March 2005 there were 23,002 live and 5,511 deceased claims registered and reflected in the regional statistics for Notts/Derbys/Leics—a ratio of 81 per cent. live to 19 per cent. deceased. The ratio for the other six regions ranged between 33 per cent. to 44 per cent. for live claims and 56 per cent. to 67 per cent. for deceased claims.

In order to assess the reasons for this variance, the Department's claims handlers, Capita, ran a report by claimant post code where the postal town was for Notts/Derbys/Leics. This report was then matched against a second report in respect of deceased claimants registered under the scheme, where they were registered with a solicitor in one of the other six regions.

This exercise confirmed that the 5,511 deceased claims registered against the Notts/Derbys/Leics postal town region was accurate. The exercise has also confirmed that there are an additional 26,500 deceased claims with Notts/Derbys/Leics post codes who are registered with a variety of solicitors spread among the other six regions.

Overseas Business Practices

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps the Government take to ensure that overseas operations by companies registered in the UK do not harm underprivileged people overseas; and what form of redress such people may seek if they believe that they have been harmed by such activities. [624]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 25 May 2005]: UK companies that operate overseas are subject to the laws applicable in those countries which will take account of the particular circumstances and practices of each host country. We encourage companies to apply high standards of corporate behaviour by addressing their environmental and social impacts wherever they
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operate, including adhering to relevant internationally agreed norms and initiatives. In line with this, we promote the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises which recommend standards of responsible business conduct for business and have written to the FTSE 100 companies to raise awareness of these expectations. We have also set our approach to encouraging environmentally and socially responsible practice internationally in our international Strategic Framework on Corporate Social Responsibility published in March.


Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action is being taken to (a) contain the radioactive leakage at the Sellafield site and (b) protect (i) the workers at the site and (ii) the environment. [2007]

Malcolm Wicks: I am advised by the independent regulator, the Health and Safety Executive, that following the recent leak of liquid inside the THORP facility at Sellafield, the plant remains in a safe and stable state. Safety monitoring has confirmed that there has been no release of material and there is not risk to employees, to the local community or to the environment.

The material is contained within an engineered stainless lined totally enclosed cell designed to contain such leaks. Safety is the key priority and British Nuclear Group is working to recover the liquid in a safe and controlled manner. The regulators have been kept closely informed throughout.

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the discovery on 19 April 2005 at the Sellafield site of the 20 tonne leakage of radioactive uranium and plutonium. [2008]

Malcolm Wicks: The recent leak of liquid inside the THORP facility at Sellafield has led to plant being closed while the situation is fully assessed. The plant is in a safe and stable state and there has been no release of material and there is no risk to employees, to the local community or to the environment. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is considering the future of THORP; any proposals will be subject to scrutiny by the safety and environmental regulators.

The Health and Safety Executive is carrying out an investigation and will make its findings public in due course.

Travel Industry Regulations

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has held with (a) the Association of British Travel Agents, (b) the Federation of Tour Operators and (c) the Association of Independent Tour Operators regarding steps to reduce the regulatory burden in the travel industry. [2164]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Department is in regular contact with all of these organisations, and matters relating to the regulatory burden on the package travel industry are frequently discussed. Last year I also held two meetings
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with key stakeholders in this sector, including these three bodies, at which regulatory issues among others were discussed.

Recent discussions have focused on the review by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), in conjunction with the Department for Transport, of the future of provision of financial protection for consumers against the bankruptcy of air travel providers; on CAA guidance on the scope of the Civil Aviation (Air Travel Organisers' Licensing) Regulations; and on the three organisations continuing compliance with the requirements for approved bodies under the Package Travel Regulations.


Crime and Disorder Act

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek to apply section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 to all statutory agencies. [1610]

Hazel Blears: Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 places a duty on specific agencies to consider the potential impact of all their decisions and activities on crime and disorder. The scope of section 17 was included in a wider review of the partnership provisions of the Act earlier this year. The review looked at how local agencies could better embed crime and disorder reduction into their core business. It also assessed whether section 17 currently covers the right agencies and bodies. I am considering the findings from the review and the Government will announce proposals for making partnership working more effective later in the year.

Identity Cards

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to (a) develop the launch of the national identity register of instructions to issue identity cards and (b) review the Police IT Organisation. [549]

Andy Burnham: The Identity Cards programme development timescales allow for sufficient time to design, develop and implement a scheme with a thorough analysis and ongoing management of the risks. As the programme proceeds it will be subject to regular Office of Government Commerce (OGC) Gateway reviews and have already been through a successful OGC Gateway Zero Review.

The launch of the Identity Cards scheme will be supported by a communications campaign which will explain the purpose of the scheme and the practicalities. The proposed new Agency will also work with the verification service users to encourage them to communicate directly with their staff and customers to explain the scheme.

The Review of the Police Information Technology Organisation has been completed and is currently being considered by Ministers.
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Armed Forces' Fighting Strength

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the fighting strength of the (a) British Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force has been in each year since 1992. [2185]

Mr. Touhig: The following table shows the full-time trained strength of UK armed forces at 1 April points since 1992, which includes trained UK regular forces, trained Gurkhas and FTRS (full-time reserve service) personnel. They do not include the Home Service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment, mobilised reservists or Activated Reservists.
Naval Service(8)ArmyRoyal Air Force

(8) Naval Service includes Royal Navy and Marines.
(9) FTRS were created by the Reserve Forces Act 1996 and none existed before late 1997 and were formally recorded from late 1998 only.
(10) 1 April 2001 Army FTRS Officer figures are not available, data are for 1 March 2001.
(11) The Army Officer FTRS strength figures supplied to DASA between April 2001 and October 2004 are currently under review. Figures contained in this table have been supplied by the Army Personnel Centre and should be considered as provisional.
(12) provisional
All figures have been rounded to the nearest 10. When rounding to the nearest 10, numbers ending in 5 have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.

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