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(1) Scientific advice means all aspects, including risk/benefit analysis, of the safety, quality and efficacy of a veterinary medicinal product apart from regulatory issues.
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:
evaluate research currently available, and in progress, on OP sheep dip products in relation to possible human exposure,
advise on any additional work that may be needed to elucidate the potential long-term effects on humans of OP sheep dip,
advise on the suitability of any projects submitted for research, and
report its findings to the Veterinary Products Committee, as its sub-committee.
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. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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.
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. 
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. 
Information on overnight accommodation broken down as requested is not
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|
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.
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. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
We estimate that there are in excess of 25,000 agents servicing over 100,000 customers. Whilst the company can identify all of its agents, the company cannot determine exact customer numbers. The company deals with its customers via its agents and therefore not all customer details are recorded in the company database. In many cases the customer information is retained by agents.
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 companys many customers, although the sums are expected to be very small.
(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. 
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. 
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 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 sectorsTesco 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. 
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