Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what dates over the last 12 months (a) he and (b) (i) Ministers and (ii) officials in his Department met a representative of Sovereign Strategy. 
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department (a) has taken since July and (b) plans to take during the next 12 months to discourage spam e-mails; and if he will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge: The Government have taken action to address the problem of spam. We introduced statutory controls on spam through the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, which were implemented on 11 December 2003. The regulations provide a first line of defence against spam where the recipient has no knowledge of the advertiser or the products being marketed. The regulations require that unsolicited spam must not be sent to an individual subscriber unless prior permission has been obtained or unless there is a previous relationship between the parties. The regulations can be enforced against an offending company or individual anywhere in the European Union (EU).
The Government recognise the source of the problem is often outside UK and EU borders and has therefore promoted international co-operation initiatives such as the London Action Plan on international spam enforcement co-operation. Additionally on 2 July 2004 a Memorandum of Understanding was agreed between the United Kingdom, United States and Australia, which aims to reduce further the problem by committing enforcement
authorities, which for the UK is the Information Commissioner's Office and the Office of Fair Trading, to work together to investigate those sending spam.
The Government also recognise that the end-user has a role to play in taking action to prevent being a target for those sending spam, as well as action to filter spam. Information has been made available to the public and to business by my Department, the Information Commissioner's Office, the Office of Fair Trading as well as a number of sites provided by service and software providers. These messages have been reinforced by the Get Safe Online initiative that started in 2005 and held a successful internet security awareness week from 9 October this year. This is an initiative between Government and industry to help individuals and businesses protect themselves against internet threats, including spam.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will bring forward legislative proposals to make it a criminal offence to send unsolicited commercial mail unless the consent of the recipient has been gained; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what recent representations he has received from (a) hon. Members, (b) Members of the House of Lords and (c) members of the public in favour of legislation to make it a criminal offence to send unsolicited commercial mail unless the consent of the recipient has been gained; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what representations he has received from (a) hon. Members, (b) Members of the House of Lords and (c) members of the public (i) in favour of and (ii) opposed to legislation to make it a criminal offence to send unsolicited commercial e-mail unless the consent of the recipient has been gained since July; and if he will make a statement; 
Margaret Hodge: Since July my Department has received five representations from hon. Members, one representation from a Member of the House of Lords and five representations from members of the public who are in favour of legislation to make it a criminal offence to send unsolicited commercial email unless the consent of the recipient has been gained.
The Department has not received any representations from hon. Members, Members of the House of Lords or members of the public opposed to legislation to make it a criminal offence to send unsolicited commercial e-mail unless the consent of the recipient has been gained since July.
These representations have been received in response to the consultation on the review of the European regulatory framework for electronic communication and services. The Government have discussed the issue of (i) the internet, (ii) spam e-mails and (iii) e-commerce with telecommunications companies, internet service providers and other interested parties.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the (a) publications and (b) consultation documents produced by his Department on (i) the internet, (ii) spam e-mails and (iii) e-commerce since July; if he will place copies of each in the Library; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have had since July with (i) Microsoft and (ii) internet providers on restricting spam e-mail; and if he will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge: DTI Ministers have not had contact with Microsoft and internet services providers specifically on restricting spam email in the period since July. DTI officials regularly engage with key companies that enable the use of the internet by UK consumers. Spam is addressed by the DTIs anti-spam working group, which brings business (includes Microsoft and the internet service provider community) and Government together to review the developing response to the spam problem. The working group last met on 26 September 2006.
Margaret Hodge: The Information Commissioners Office is responsible for administering the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. Regulation 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations relates to the sending of unsolicited direct marketing material by electronic mail, which includes e-mail. However it does not cover the sending of all e-mail communications that could be considered to be spam, such as e-mails from an organisation where there is some prior history of contact.
Between 1 January 2006 and 1 November 2006 the Information Commissioners Office received a total of 503 complaints about emails that were allegedly sent in breach of Regulation 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. It should be noted that
this figure will include cases that were not found to constitute a breach of Regulation 22 and complaints where the information provided was not sufficient to enable the Information Commissioners Office to determine that a breach of regulations had or had not occurred.
Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what funding will be provided to the UK Research Council office in Hong Kong by his Department; what the aims of the office are; and how many staff the office will employ; 
Mr. Darling [holding answer 6 November 2006]: The UK Research Councils are planning to establish an office in Beijing, China, in 2007. The office will initially be funded from existing Research Councils budgets and plans to employ two UK nationals, assisted by two locally engaged staff. The office will explore topics that are of strategic interest to both Research Councils UK and Chinese partners which can be developed into substantive research collaborations.
The Research Councils will consider other locations in line with the Government's Global Science and Innovation Forum's Strategy for International Engagement in Research and Development, recommendation to give to greater presence of Research Councils UK (RCUK) internationally.
Mr. McCartney: It is implemented into UK law by the Units of Measurement Regulations 1994 (SI1994/2867), the Weights and Measures Act 1985 (Metrication)(Amendment) Order 1994 (SI1994/2866) and the Units of Measurement Regulations 1995 (SI1995/1804).
Article 6a of the directive requires a further examination of the working of the directive to be carried out, with particular reference to the matter of supplementary indications. We understand that the European Commission has commenced this examination, and intends to publish a consultation paper shortly.
Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what meetings (a) he and (b) his officials have had with representatives of the United States Department of Justice in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the Access to Work scheme in increasing the number of disabled people in employment. 
Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 30 October 2006]: Since 1997 the number of disabled people helped by Access to Work has more than doubled. In the operational year 2005-06 Access to Work helped over 28,000 people to either gain or maintain employment. In total, since 1997-98, more than 240,000 people have been helped by Access to Work.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much his Department has spent on attendance allowance for each year since 2002-03; and what expenditure on such allowances is forecast in each year up to 2015. 
Mrs. McGuire: The available information is in the table. No firm expenditure plans exist beyond 2007-08. Information for the years from 2008-09 to 2014-15 will be available when the Government's expenditure plans for those years are published.
|Attendance allowance: cash expenditure in Great Britain in each year from 2002-03 to 2007-08
|Expenditure (£ million)
(2 )Estimated outturn
Figures are rounded to the nearest £1 million and are consistent with the 2006 Budget Report and with expenditure information published on the Department's website at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/expenditure.asp
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the fraud and error rate in each of the last five years in (a) percentage terms and (b) cash terms in (i) attendance allowance, (ii) carer's allowance, (iii) basic state pension, (iv) bereavement benefit, (v) industrial injuries benefit, (vi) maternity allowance, (vii) severe disablement allowance, (viii) social fund, (ix) widow's benefit and (x) winter fuel payments; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The Department for Work and Pensions has a systematic methodology for measuring fraud and error across the benefit system, carrying out continuous measurement for those benefits research has shown are most at risk from fraud and error, and less frequent reviews of other benefits. Carer's allowance and state pension are subject to less frequent reviews so figures for different years are calculated by applying percentages derived from the most recent exercise and applying them to previous expenditure.
The requested information for attendance allowance, bereavement benefit, industrial injuries disablement benefit, maternity allowance, severe disablement allowance, social fund, widow's benefit and winter fuel payments is not available.
|Estimates of overpayments in carers allowance
|Total fraud and error
1. Figures calculated using percentages overpaid from the 1996 review and applying to expenditure for each of the last five years.
2. Overpayment figures rounded to the nearest £10 million. The totals may appear different from the sum of the components due to this rounding.