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8 Nov 2006 : Column 1593W—continued

The VPC advises the Veterinary Medicines Directorate which acts as the Licensing Authority for veterinary medicines on behalf of the Secretary of State. Its main role is to deal with cases when the VMD has provisionally concluded that an application for a Marketing Authorisation (MA), a Provisional MA, a variation or a renewal of an MA, or an Animal Test Certificate should be refused, or granted other than in accordance with the application. The latest VPC report is available at www.vpc.gov.uk

The Medical and Scientific Panel (MSP) is a sub-group of the VPC. It was established in 1994 to provide advice to the VPC on human health aspects of organophosphorus (OP) sheep dips. Its terms of reference are to:

Trade and Industry

Animals (Inhumane Killings)

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people were (a) charged with and (b) convicted of inhumanely killing (i) greyhounds and (ii) other animals in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [87511]

Margaret Hodge: It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Assisted Areas Status Map

Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what account was taken of (a) employment rates, (b) the number of incapacity benefit claimants, (c) Level 2 skill rates and (d) numbers employed in manufacturing in the determination of the draft assisted area status map; and if he will make a statement. [91372]


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Margaret Hodge: It has not proved possible to respond to my hon. Friend in the time available before Prorogation.

British Sugar

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what information British Sugar has provided to his Department about (a) the number of proposed redundancies and (b) the length of service and age structure of the workforce at its York sugar factory. [89194]

Margaret Hodge: It has not proved possible to respond to my hon. Friend in the time available before Prorogation.

Casinos

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when (a) Ministers and (b) officials have held meetings in the last 12 months with casino operators interested in securing licences under the Gambling Act 2005; where each meeting took place; and what was discussed. [83363]

Mr. McCartney: To UK Trade and Investment's knowledge, no DTI Ministers or officials held meetings with casino operators between July 2005 and July 2006. However, FCO officials, including the Consul General in Los Angeles, met representatives of two casino operators in three meetings in the course of 2005-06 to discuss investment opportunities in the UK.

Coal Industry

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received from the Scottish Executive on making resources available to develop the blending of coal and biomass in the coal industry. [89345]

Malcolm Wicks: It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Cuba (Vaccine Projects)

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he plans to visit Cuba to view their vaccine projects. [99974]

Margaret Hodge: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has no plans to visit Cuba.

Departmental Expenditure

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much was spent by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies in respect of hotel and other similar privately-provided accommodation (i) in the UK and (ii) abroad for (A) Ministers, (B) staff and (C) other persons in each year since 2001-02. [91897]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Information on overnight accommodation broken down as requested is not
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available and could be made available only at disproportionate cost. However, the following table shows the total expenditure on hotel accommodation for core DTI split between the UK and overseas in the last two years.

Expenditure on overnight accommodation (£000)
Financial years UK hotels Hotels overseas

2004-05

345

340

2005-06

476

469


Information relating to overseas travel by Ministers is published on an annual basis. Information for the period 2 May 1997 to 31 March 2006 is available in the Libraries of the House. Information for the financial year 2006-07 will be published as soon as it is ready after the end of the current financial year.

All travel is conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Ministerial Code, Travel by Ministers and the Civil Service Management Code.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the expenditure by his Department has been on the promotion of design in each of the past nine years. [100388]

Jim Fitzpatrick: It has not proved possible to respond to my hon. Friend in the time available before Prorogation.

Departmental IT

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many non-web related information technology projects with a value over £500,000 have been awarded by his Department to external consultants since 2001. [98924]

Jim Fitzpatrick: It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Departmental Publications

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the (a) circulation, (b) cost and (c) title is of each publication his Department has issued since 1 July 2005. [89593]

Jim Fitzpatrick: A list of the 1,685 items published between 1 July 2005 and 31 August 2006 has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

The cost of producing these publications totalled £4,365,833.

DTI publications currently available and notified centrally to my publications team are listed on the DTI Reports and Publications website at:

DTI publications can either be ordered or downloaded via the website, or ordered from the DTI publications orderline. Information on circulation could be gathered only at disproportionate cost.


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Departmental Staff

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many staff in his Department received bonus payments in each of the last five years for which information is available; what proportion of the total workforce they represented; what the total amount of bonuses paid has been; what the largest single payment was in each year; and if he will make a statement. [98521]

Jim Fitzpatrick: It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Electromagnetic Relativity Drive Design

Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much funding his Department has provided to the electromagnetic relativity drive design proposed by Roger Shawyer; and from what departmental budget funding has been drawn. [97212]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 30 October 2006]: It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Employment Agencies

Ian Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many employment agencies have been prosecuted in the last 12 months for breaches of the (a) Employment Agencies Act 1973 and (b) Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations 2003; and for what offences they were prosecuted. [90003]

Jim Fitzpatrick: It has not proved possible to respond to my hon. Friend in the time available before Prorogation.

Farepak

Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made towards helping people affected by the collapse of Farepak. [97739]

Mr. McCartney: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon (Anne Snelgrove) today.

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with retailers on compensation for Farepak customers. [98876]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 6 November 2006]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the hon. Member for South Swindon (Anne Snelgrove) today.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the average loss to customers and agents of Farepak. [98899]


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Mr. McCartney [holding answer 2 November 2006]: In a statement issued by the administrators on 16 October 2006, the administrator said:

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what consideration he has given to providing compensation for Farepak customers. [98900]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 2 November 2006]: I have great sympathy with those who have lost money as a result of the collapse of Farepak. But I am not aware of any circumstances which would make it appropriate for the Government to offer any form of compensation.

However, it is the duty of the administrators (BDO Stoy Hayward) to recover as much as possible for the benefit of the creditors of Farepak. It is too soon to say how they may be able to return to the company’s many customers, although the sums are expected to be very small.

I announced on 7 November that the Farepak Response Fund is being set up to take donations towards a goodwill gesture.

Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what measures are in place to provide compensation for unsecured creditors of Christmas clubs and hamper companies; [99037]

(2) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of measures to protect savers with hamper companies and Christmas clubs from fraud; and whether he has any plans to introduce new measures. [99139]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 2 November 2006]: If my hon. Friend has any evidence of fraud in relation to the collapse of Farepak, she should make it available to the administrators, BDO Stoy Hayward. More generally, I am meeting the Chief Executive of the Office of Fair Trading to ask the OFT to reassess the regulatory framework which applies to Christmas club companies such as Farepak, and whether changes are needed in that framework.

Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has made to the Farepak scheme administrator to ensure debts are paid to customers before other creditors. [99082]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 2 November 2006]: I have made no such representations and have no plans to do so. If payments are made within an insolvency procedure there is a statutory order of priority which an insolvency office holder must follow.

I have great sympathy with the people who have saved up for Christmas with the Farepak scheme and have been so badly let down by the company.

I have been working with the British Retail Consortium and others to see if there is a possibility of a goodwill gesture before Christmas.


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The Administrators BDO Stoy Hayward have been appointed by the High Court and must distribute funds as laid down in insolvency law.

Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions his Department has had on the collapse of Farepak; and if he will make a statement. [99138]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 2 November 2006]: I have great sympathy with those people who have lost money they saved over the year as a result of the collapse of Farepak and feel badly let down.

I contacted the administrators and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to assess the level of the problem caused by the company going into administration, and to seek a way forward. I subsequently met them on 21 October. The BRC expressed its willingness to consider the idea of its making a goodwill gesture, given the exceptional circumstances. However its subsequently came to the view that there were serious practical difficulties in the way of its organizing a workable and timely form of assistance. It is not therefore pursuing its own proposals. But the consortium and individual retailers have indicated their willingness to support any workable alternative means of delivering assistance which can be mobilised in time.

I have therefore secured the assistance of the Family Fund, a long-established charity with extensive experience of delivering assistance to low-income families, largely through vouchers. The Family Fund, working closely with the administrators, has set up a dedicated voucher fund, called the Farepak Response Fund. This will be independent of all agencies and will accept donations from all sectors—Tesco has already pledged support of £250,000. The setting up of this Fund overcomes the practical problems earlier encountered and opens the way for the many retail and other organizations, and individuals, who have indicated their wish to help, to do so in a practical timely and effective way. I hope it will be widely supported.

I am also meeting the Chief Executive of the Office of Fair Trading, to ask the OFT to reassess the regulatory framework which applies to Christmas club companies such as Farepak, and whether changes are needed in that framework. I am also meeting the Hamper Industry Trade Association.

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make it his policy to include the activities of firms such as Farepak within the definition of licensed deposit-takers. [99393]

Mr. McCartney: I refer the right hon. hon. Member to the reply given on 6 November 2006, Official Report, column 751W to my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (John Battle).

Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with the administrator of European Home Retail, PricewaterhouseCooper, on Farepak. [99985]

Mr. McCartney: I have had no discussions with the administrators of European Home Retail.


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