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Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the extent to which export subsidies are given by EU member state governments to support their domestic manufacturing industry. 
Mr. McCartney: Direct export subsidies are illegal under the state aid rules which apply under the treaty of Rome. These rules are enforced by the European Commission and reports on the action it takes against member states who breach them are published onits website at: http://europa.eu.int/coinm/competition/state_aid/scoreboard/
Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the Government plan to challenge export subsidies given to manufacturers by other EU member state governments; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. McCartney: Direct export subsidies are always illegal. Only the European Commission can take action against illegal subsidies. If the Government had any evidence of such subsidies we would bring this to the attention of the Commission at once. It also open to any UK company in possession of such evidence to complain direct to the Commission.
Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on negotiations between the European Commission and the United States authorities regarding tariffs applied to hotelware. 
Mr. McCartney: Negotiations between the European Commission and the US authorities on tariffs applied to hotel ware form part of the Doha development agenda negotiations on non-agricultural market access.
Mr. McCartney: The Department's main source of information on state aid granted in all member states including Italy is the European Commission's twice yearly scoreboard for global information on state aid granted in other member states: http:/Veuropa.eu.int/coinni/competition/state_aid/scoreboaiW2005/autuinn_en.pdf
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on how many occasions Ministers of State in his Department stayed overnight in (a) five star, (b) four star and (c) three star hotels on foreign visits in each of the last three years. 
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much interest has accrued from balances kept on Post Office card accounts since its inception; to which organisation these balances accrue; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Any interest accrued from balances on Post Office card accounts is shared between Post Office Ltd. and its suppliers of the card accounts. This sum helps to offset some of the costs of operating the card account. Details of the amount of interest that accrues is commercially confidential.
Mr. McCartney: DTI and UK Trade and Investment (and the latter's predecessor, Trade Partners UK) have had a number of meetings with Shell at which Sakhalin II has been discussed. However, most of the meetings relating to Sakhalin II since May 2001 have taken place in the context of the Export Credits Guarantee Department's (ECGD) due diligence and have been with Sakhalin Energy Investment Company (SEIC), in which Shell Sakhalin Holdings B.V. is the major shareholder, rather than with Shell itself.
Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what criteria the Export Credits Guarantee Department use when assessing whether to support the Sakhalin II oil and gas project. 
Mr. McCartney: The Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) has published its Case Impact Analysis Process, which sets out the criteria that it uses to assess the environmental and social impacts of projects. This can be found on its website at www.ecgd.gov.uk/ecgd_case_impact_analysis_ process_ may2004.doc.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the operation of Statutory Instrument number (a) 2001/2673, (b) 2001/2660, (c) 2001/4010, (d) 2002/3128, (e) 2003/3319 and (f) 2003/1656. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Government are proud of their record on employment regulation. This has given the UK a skilled and flexible work force. We have given people decent rights at work without jeopardising their prospects for employment. Both employers and employees have rights and responsibilities towards each other and we strive to find the right balance and consult closely on all our regulations.
The Regulations behind Statutory Instrument 2001/2673 amended the National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 and came into force on 1 October 2001. They increased the adult minimum wage rate from £3.70 to £4.10 an hour and the rate for workers aged 18-21 (inclusive) from £3.20 to £3.50 an hour. They also made a number of other amendments relating to the level of the accommodation offset and workers taking part in accredited training. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs is responsible for enforcing compliance with the national minimum wage legislation.
SI 2001/2660 introduced two technical changes to the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 to implement the Burden of Proof Directive97/80/ECthe aim of which was to ensure that victims of sex discrimination are provided with effective access to justice, and in doing so promote equal treatment. This Directive applied to the employment field only. These regulations are enforceable through the Employment Tribunal system.
SI 2001/4010 extended parental leave entitlement for parents of disabled children under 18 from 13 weeks' parental leave to 18 weeks' leave which can be taken up to their child's 18(th) birthday. SI 2001/4010 also extended the right to parental leave to parents of children under 5 on 15 December 1999. These parents were able to take their parental leave until 31 March 2001. SI 1999/3312, which SI 2001/4010 amended, is enforceable through the employment tribunals system.
SI 2002/3128 introduced measures to protect young workers and provide fair minimum standards which ensure that young people are protected from excess working time leading to fatigue, risks to health and safety and possible damage to their education. These Regulations are enforceable and I have not been made aware of any difficulties with their operation.
The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 (Statutory Instruments 2003/3319) govern the private recruitment industry in the UK and seek to protect those using the job-finding services provided by employment agencies. It is enforced by the DTIs Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate. The Inspectorate can prosecute an agency found to be in breach of the legislation and can also apply for a Prohibition Order preventing an individual from operating as an agency or employment business for up to 10 years. The EAS has a helpline; the number is 0845 955 5105.
SI 2003/1656 amended the Equal Pay Act 1970 in three respects to reflect requirements of European Community law, specifically Article 141 of the Treaty of Rome (equal pay), as applied in a number of recent cases before the European Court of Justice and the domestic courts. It extended the previous two-year limit on the period over which an employment tribunal could award back pay in successful equal pay cases, extended the six-month time limit within which a woman must bring an equal pay claim before an employment tribunal in specific, limited cases, and introduced a new rule that enables equal pay claims to be brought during the period of a stable employment relationship or within six months of it ending. These Regulations are enforceable through the Employment Tribunal system.
Ed Balls: On the basis of latest estimate, UK GDP grew by 0.6 per cent. in the first quarter of 2006 and stood 2.25 per cent. higher than in the first quarter of 2005, fully consistent with the Budget forecast. This represents the 55th consecutive quarter of uninterrupted economic growth, maintaining the longest expansion
on record and is clear testament of the success of this Government's macroeconomic policies.
John Healey: At present, the rate of CPI inflation in the UK is 1.8 per cent.; close to target despite recent rises in oil prices. This is below the current rate of CPI inflation in the United States of 3.4 per cent., and below the rate of more than 2 per cent. in both the euro area and the EU as a whole.
Mr. Timms: Tackling drugs remains one of the Government's highest priorities, and that priority will be reflected in the forthcoming spending review. We will ensure that spending continues to contribute to improving health and reducing crime.
18. Mary Creagh: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people claimed working tax credit in (a) Wakefield and (b) West Yorkshire in the latest year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: In April 2006, there were 33,000 in-work families with child or working tax credit awards in the local authority of Wakefield, and 9,300 in the constituency of Wakefield. There were 204,500 thousand in-work families with child or working tax credit awards in the metropolitan county of West Yorkshire.
John Healey: The Government set out their framework for using the tax system to meet their environmental objectives in their Statement of Intent on Environmental Taxation in 1997. This principled framework was developed further in the Treasury 2002 publication Tax and the Environment.
Alongside other policy instruments, tax measures have been a significant part of the UK's Climate Change Programme that was launched in 2000. For instance, the climate change levy package has delivered over 28 million tonnes of carbon emissions savings so far.
John Healey: The new National Institute for Energy Technologies will be a 50:50 public-private partnership. The intention is that the private sector investment would be matched (up to a pre-determined limit) by public science and technology investment.
Ed Balls: Tax relief on pension contributions is just one of the range of fiscal incentives designed to encourage both workers and their employers to save for retirement via an occupational pension scheme. The current annual net cost of the tax treatment of approved pensions is approximately £12 billion.
22. Ms Keeble: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the implications for economic growth of the Bank of England's latest inflation report; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many civic penalties have been issued for failure to provide information to the Valuation Office Agency for business rates valuations since they were introduced; what average penalty has been levied; and what the estimated aggregate revenue from the penalties has been. 
809 civil penalty notices have been issued for failure to provide information requested for non-domestic rating purposes. The average penalty levied is £220, and the total amount collected since the powers were
introduced is £178,350. All monies are paid into the Consolidated Fund. They are neither retained by nor accessible to the Valuation Office Agency.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer by what means an individual can appeal against the imposition of a civic penalty for failure to provide information to the Valuation Office Agency for business rates valuations. 
An individual can appeal to the local valuation tribunal if aggrieved by the imposition of a penalty for failure to provide rental information requested by a valuation officer. The appeal needs to be made within 28 days of the penalty notice being served. The tribunal can mitigate or remit any penalty on the grounds that the appellant had a reasonable excuse for non-compliance and/or that the information is not in the possession or control of the appellant.
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