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28 Jun 2005 : Column 1406W—continued

Waste Recycling

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of electrical and electronic waste in the UK was recycled in the last year for which figures are available. [7206]

Mr. Bradshaw: I understand that, currently, approximately 60 per cent. of domestic WEEE, by weight, is recycled, mostly comprising large household appliances. The Industry Council for Electronic Equipment Recycling (ICER) does not yet have figures for recycling levels of business WEEE.


XML Feeds

Michael Fabricant: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission when XML feeds of the Parliamentary website for information, including the Official Report and Early Day Motions, will be made available; and if he will make a statement. [7533]

Nick Harvey: There are at present no plans to make XML feeds of the Parliamentary website available. XMLfeeds of Early Day Motions are used internally for the generation of printed papers and populating parliamentary and Government information management systems. XML feeds of Hansard are under development for similar purposes.

The Parliamentary Publications source database, which includes Hansard and Early Day Motions, is currently populated with content in HTML, and is available under licence from HMSO, who administer Parliamentary Copyright. Future planning for the development of the website will take into account the case for providing XML feeds.


UK Companies (Accountability)

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will take steps to ensure UK companies are accountable for their impact on (a) communities and (b) the environment in developing countries. [7460]

Mr. Thomas: All companies should operate within the laws of the country in which they are operating. UK companies operating in developing countries should be accountable to the Government and citizens of those countries. DFID recognises that, in many developing countries, the systems for monitoring and regulating business activity are weak. Our priority is to support countries' efforts to develop an appropriate legal framework, including protection of the environment and community rights, and to strengthen their capacity to enforce these laws. An example is the pathways to environmental action in Kenya where DFID supports work with local regulatory authorities and the private sector to find the best means of meeting environmental standards.
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There are of course certain fundamental issues, such as respect for human rights, which are universal. At the global level, we encourage countries to sign up to the existing international agreements in this area—in particular, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) guidelines for multinational enterprises, the global compact and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) core conventions on labour standards. At the international level, we are also working with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) on their environmental and social safeguards revision process.

Improved reporting mechanisms also give UK companies the opportunity to report on their impacts both at home and abroad. The new operating and financial review, which applies to financial years beginning on or after 1 April 2005 requires quoted companies to report on factors affecting the performance and future prospects of their company. They will be required to consider their impacts on environmental and community matters if this is relevant to an assessment of the company. This is a step forward in ensuring greater corporate transparency and accountability.


Commission for Africa

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the Commission for Africa's observations on the merits of using trade agreements to achieve growth and poverty reduction in developing countries. [6755]

Ian Pearson: The Government firmly believes that trade liberalisation through preferential, regional or multilateral agreements can play an important role in promoting economic growth and poverty reduction. As the Commission for Africa report highlights, it is essential that improvements are made to the supply capacity of African countries if they are to benefit fully from the potential gains that trade liberalisation brings.

Company Directors

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make it his policy to allow company directors the discretion to forgo commercial advantage for ethical and public objectives. [7575]

Alun Michael: Company law provides a flexible framework which can be used by both commercial companies and companies formed for an altruistic purpose. We will be codifying directors' general duties in our proposed Company Law Reform Bill. In the case of a commercial company, directors have a duty to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members. This means that the directors should put commercial considerations first, but, in doing so, they should foster effective relationships with employees, customers and suppliers, and in the community more widely. They need to pay regard to the long run as well as the short term consequences of their actions. We believe that this approach can both drive long-term company performance and maximise overall competitiveness and ensure that directors pay regard to the company's impact on the community and the environment.
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Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many allegations of overseas bribery and corruption by British companies have been received by his Department since May 2004. [6481]

Ian Pearson: The Department of Trade and Industry has received one allegation of overseas bribery and corruption by a British company since May 2004, and ECGD have received two allegations.

Export Credits Guarantee Department

Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 13 June 2005, Official Report, columns 78–9W, on Export Credits Guarantee Department, when he expects to report on the consultation; and if he will make a statement. [6185]

Ian Pearson [holding answer 21 June 2005]: The Export Credits Guarantee Department expects to report on the consultation in September 2005.

Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the Government's response to the consultation, Estimating the Economic Cost of the ECGD to the DTI, will be published; and if he will make a statement. [6219]

Ian Pearson: The methodology to estimate the economic cost of ECGD, which was set out alongside Budget 2005, will be reviewed as part of, and published alongside, the 2006 Spending Review. Comments submitted by any interested party will continue to be taken into account before publishing the final method and economic cost figure.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much the Export Credits Guarantee Department has allocated to (a) fossil fuel projects and (b) renewable energy in each of the last five years. [6797]

Ian Pearson: I refer the hon. Member for St. Ives to the answer given on 7 February 2005, Official Report, column 1263W. I will write to the hon. Member with up-to-date information as soon as it is available.

MG Rover

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what issues he has asked the inspectors Messrs Guy Newey and Gervase MacGregor to investigate in their inquiry into MG Rover; whether he has asked them to limit their inquiry to specific areas; when he expects them to present their report to him; and whether he plans to publish the report. [6667]

Ian Pearson: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones) on 15 June 2005, Official Report, column 412W.
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Miners Compensation

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the implications of the proposed transfer of miners' compensation claims by the UDM from AMS Law Solicitors to Moss Solicitors in February. [7263]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department has not been informed by the UDM of any mass transfer of miners' compensation claims from AMS Law Solicitors to Moss solicitors.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for what reasons his Department signed an agreement in 1999 on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with the Union of Democratic Mineworkers following the signing of the January 1999 agreement on vibration white finger with Vendside Ltd. [7267]

Malcolm Wicks: Vendside is wholly owned by the Union of Democratic Mineworkers. It makes no practical difference to the claims handling arrangements which of the two is named in them.

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