Previous Section Index Home Page

23 Nov 2006 : Column 160W—continued

23 Nov 2006 : Column 161W

Barry Gardiner: DEFRA plans to commission the Central Point of Expertise on Timber to undertake research and make recommendations on the feasibility of developing new data collection for the reporting of legal and sustainable timber procured by central Government Departments.

Trade and Industry


Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received from members of the public in (a) Wirral, (b) Merseyside and (c) the North West on the failure of Farepak. [100786]

Mr. McCartney: The Department have received a large number of letters from members of the public, but I regret that it would not be possible to provide the information which my hon. Friend seeks except at disproportionate cost.

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he last met consumer groups to discuss the situation at Farepak. [100787]

Mr. McCartney: I have had no discussions with consumer groups on Farepak, though a number of individual Farepak customers or agents have informed me of their situation through my constituency office or by writing to me. I have great sympathy for all those who have been so badly let down in this case, and I am doing all that I can to secure some practical assistance for them, on a goodwill basis, before Christmas.

Hazardous Substances

Sir Paul Beresford: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assistance is being given to the IT industry in its search for credible, cost effective alternatives the materials banned under the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Regulations; and if he will make a statement. [100579]

Malcolm Wicks: The DTI has made considerable efforts to assist both the IT industry and other sectors to comply with the requirements of these regulations both during the negotiations, prior to the adoption of an agreed text in January 2003, and in the subsequent period up to 1 July this year when the requirements came into force. These efforts have included three full rounds of public consultation, the organisation of UK-wide seminars to inform key stakeholders and the provision of the latest information on the Department's website.

In particular reference to the search for credible and cost effective alternatives to the substances restricted by these regulations, officials have signposted industry stakeholders to independent sources of technical assistance. Where such alternatives are not available, the Department has supported industry in the requests it has made to the European Commission for the
23 Nov 2006 : Column 162W
provision of specific exemptions that are permitted under Article 5 of the Directive, (subject to the approval of a majority of member states).

Sir Paul Beresford: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures are being taken to speed up the decision-making process on the exemption requests under the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Regulations; and if he will make a statement. [100580]

Malcolm Wicks: I share concerns expressed by industry at the length of time that has been taken up by the consideration of requests from industry for exemptions for specific applications from the requirements of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, but also fully understand the procedural constraints that the European Commission has faced.

I wrote to the European Commissioner who has responsibility for this area about this issue in July and was assured, in reply, that the Commission fully understood the concerns of industry and was doing all that was possible to bring all outstanding requests to a conclusion as soon as was reasonably possible.

Sir Paul Beresford: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the policy of the National Weights and Measures Laboratory will be on the interpretation of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Regulations in respect of (a) existing but unsold electronic equipment held by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and (b) production by the SMEs of new equipment where for health, safety or robustness of construction reasons the equipment demands the use of lead-based solders, or no proven alternative is widely available. [101716]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 21 November 2006]: The information requested is as follows.

Sir Paul Beresford: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the meeting of 27 June 2006 between the Minister for Energy, the hon. Members for Mole Valley and for Walthamstow Mr. Gerrard (and representatives of the Professional Lighting and Sound Association, if he will list the research that contradicts the evidence adduced in the Christopher Booker article in the Sunday Telegraph of 4 June 2006; and if he will make a statement. [100578]

23 Nov 2006 : Column 163W

Malcolm Wicks: In the article that Mr. Booker wrote in June, he suggested that the report published by the US Environment Protection Agency in 2005 demonstrated that the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive was an unnecessary piece of legislation. I do not share this view.

The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive aims to minimise the amount of hazardous substances in waste electrical and electrical equipment that could enter landfill sites at end of life by restricting the levels of such substances that are used in the manufacture of such equipment.

It is well known and widely recognised that the four heavy metals restricted by the RoHS Directive (and, as a consequence, the UK RoHS Regulations 2006) are toxic materials that could cause death, illness and other medium to long-term health impacts. This is also the case in regard to the polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) restricted by the Directive. The situation in respect of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) is less conclusive, so the most commonly used—DecaBDE—has been exempted from the restrictions in the light of extensive research undertaken for the European Commission by the Environment Agency for England and Wales.

23 Nov 2006 : Column 164W

Staff Bonuses

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 work force 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. [100823]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 22 November 2006]: The Department of Trade and Industry awards non-pensionable bonuses in two formats:

Based on the information available the number of staff receiving these awards, the proportion of the total work force they represent and the size of the single largest payment for each of the years for which this information can be provided is in the following table.

Special bonuses Performance awards
Number of staff receiving Proportion of the work force receiving (percentage) Total value (£) Number of staff receiving Proportion of the work force receiving (percentage) Total value (£) Largest single payment

































(1) Figures for special bonuses paid in 2002-03 can be made available only at disproportionate costs due to a change in accounting computer systems.
1. Full data for 2006-07 are not yet available as the non-SCS pay award has not yet been implemented. For the SCS the largest performance bonus paid for those on standard contracts in 2006-07 is £15,000. For those on non-standard contracts (12 people in 2006-07) the largest performance bonus paid was £30,788. Figures for earlier years for non-standard contract bonus payments can be made available only at disproportionate cost.
2. In 2005-06 the total value of bonuses paid was approximately 1.4 per cent. of the Department’s total paybill.
3. The Special bonuses and performance awards for non-SCS staff are paid on a non-consolidated, non-pensionable basis and do not increase the Department’s paybill costs each year. For the SCS the senior salaries review body determines the level of expenditure to cover bonuses.

Trading Standards Officers

Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether his Department plans to change the powers and responsibilities of trading standards officers. [101956]

Mr. McCartney: There are two developments of interest to Trading Standards’ responsibilities.

Firstly, the implementation of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive provides a significant opportunity to modernise and simplify the UK’s consumer law framework. We are still considering how to implement the Directive, but one option is to provide access to civil and criminal investigative powers for almost all breaches of the Directive. Given that the Directive contains important provisions that are new to UK law, this would effectively extend Trading Standards’ existing powers. We are also considering placing a duty to enforce on Trading Standards and the OFT in order to ensure effective enforcement of the Directive.

Secondly, the Consumer Protection Co-operation regulation will provide enforcers, including Trading Standards departments, with a new power of on-site inspection to investigate civil infringements of consumer law. In addition, the regulation formalises co-operation arrangements on the enforcement of intra-Community laws that protect consumers’ interests. It will therefore place a legal requirement on enforcers to provide mutual assistance for the exchange of information and co-operation on cross-border cases.

In addition, the Government will be establishing the Local Better Regulation Office which will work in partnership with Trading Standards to reduce administrative burdens on business.

23 Nov 2006 : Column 165W


Information Technology Projects

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland which information technology projects are being undertaken by his Department; what the (a) start date, (b) original planned completion date, (c) expected completion date, (d) originally planned costs and (e) estimated planned costs are of each; and if he will make a statement. [101585]

David Cairns: The Scotland Office has no ongoing information technology projects.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his Department has a traffic light system in place for processing parliamentary questions, where questions are categorised using a colour code. [103151]

David Cairns: No.


Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland which staff in his Department are (a) seconded from organisations with charitable status and (b) have (i) costs and (ii) salaries met (A) in part and (B) in whole from (1) public funds and (2) by the charity from which they are seconded. [102417]

David Cairns: None.

Culture, Media and Sport

British Telecom

Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether she has received recent representations about the service offered by British Telecom. [100576]

Mr. Woodward: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State received a representation from the hon. Member for North-East Milton Keynes (Mr. Lancaster) and my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, South-West (Dr. Starkey) about British Telecom, regarding digital services in Milton Keynes, at a meeting on 8 May.

Casino Advisory Panel

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many people work for the Casino Advisory Panel; how many members have left since the Panel was created; and what the staff turnover has been in that period. [102041]

Mr. Caborn: The Casino Advisory Panel currently has a secretariat comprising three full-time and one part-time staff. Since the panel's creation there have been two changes in secretariat personnel.

23 Nov 2006 : Column 166W

Construction Industry

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what support her Department gives to the British construction industry to support the Prime Minister’s better public building award scheme. [100892]

Mr. Lammy: The Prime Minister’s Award for Better Public Building is a special category within the British Construction Industry Awards (BCIA), and is part of the Better Public Building initiative launched by the Prime Minister in October 2000.

The Prime Minister’s Award itself is jointly sponsored by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment CABE (a DCMS sponsored NDPB) and the Office for Government Commerce.

In 2006, OGC and CABE each paid £10,000 to sponsor the award. This primarily covered the costs of a rigorous assessment process, including site visits to each shortlisted project. CABE spent a further £65,000 on a campaign to launch the 2006 award.

Freephone Numbers

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the estimated cost is of switching (a) her Department's and (b) its agencies' telephone inquiry lines to freephone numbers. [102619]

Mr. Lammy: My Department has not made an estimation of these costs.

Next Section Index Home Page