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Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research his Department has (a) undertaken, (b) evaluated and (c) commissioned to find viable alternatives for lead solders banned under the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Regulations; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Department commissioned independent research on the health and environmental impact of lead and the other five substances restricted by the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Regulations in August 2006. In addition, the European Commission has brought forward a number of exemptions from the RoHS Directive for the use of lead solder in specific applications where its elimination or substitution is not technically or scientifically practicable. These exemptions have been transposed into the UK regulations.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what (a) resources and (b) enforcement procedures are in place to prevent the import of goods from outside the European Union which do not
comply with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Regulations; at which ports such procedures operate; and what forecast has been made of the percentage of relevant electrical equipment which will be checked. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Regulations 2006 (SI 2006 No. 1463) contains full details of the enforcement powers that the National Weights and Measures Laboratorythe enforcement authority for these regulationsholds. Copies of the regulations have been placed in the Libraries of the House.
The Regulations apply to electrical and electrical equipment put on the market, so no distinction is made between the importers of such equipment into the EU and manufacturers within the EU. There is, therefore, no inspection system that will operate at UK ports or a mechanism in place to forecast the percentage of equipment that will be checked.
Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made by the Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements for the European Commission in developing reference materials suitable for use in testing whether components are compliant with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Regulations; and if he will make a statement. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (and, consequently, the UK Regulations) does not prescribe compliance procedures and testing methods to be applied. I understand from the European Commission, however, that the Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements now has seven reference materials available for metal matrices certified for lead, cadmium and hexavalent chromium; two for ceramic matrices certified for cadmium and lead; and six for polymer matrices certified for cadmium, lead, mercury, bromine and hexavalent chromium. These reference materials have not been specifically certified for the RoHS Directive but can be used for such a purpose.
Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what mechanisms are in place to assess manufacturers' claims that they have been unable to source essential component parts that adhere to the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Regulations; and whether any derogations are in place in respect of essential components not complying with the Regulations. 
Malcolm Wicks: Article 5 of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive provides a mechanism by which the European Commission can bring forward exemptions for the specific use of the restricted substances in specific applications where their elimination or substitution by alternatives is not technically or scientifically practicable or where those alternatives have a greater environmental, health and/or safety impact.
Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to hold regional and national conferences before the next Internet Governance Forum in Brazil in November 2007. 
The world summit on the Information Society in November 2005 agreed to hold the forum as a way to improve understanding of the international public policy issues associated with the internet through multi-stakeholder dialogue. DTI held an initial consultation meeting in January 2006, but we have been keen to encourage UK stakeholders to take the lead: we want to see a strong industry and civil society engagement in the process.
This approach worked well for the first IGF meeting, with preparatory events organised by Nominet UK and the Oxford Internet Institute. The event The Parliament and the Internet: Workshop on Internet Governance on 12 October which my hon. Friend organised also contributed to improving awareness and understanding of the issues. By working with key stakeholders we ensured strong UK involvement with good participation from the media, civil society and the internet industry in the UK.
It was used as a platform to launch the Stop Spam Alliance, bringing together the OECD, ITU, APEC, the Contact Network of Spam Authorities, and the London Action Plan. The alliance is a joint initiative to gather information and resources on combating spam and will provide easy internet access to information about the main international anti-spam initiatives.
Malcolm Wicks: I refer the hon. Member to the answer provided by the Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar and Canning Town (Jim Fitzpatrick), to the hon. Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois) on 1 November 2006, Official Report, column 529W.
Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which representatives attended a meeting in August 2006 to consider the feasibility and potential risks of viruses being created by joining together oligonucleotides. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 22 November 2006]: Representatives attended from all relevant Departments including the Department of Trade and Industry, the Home Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Medical Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council were also represented.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether his Department has a traffic light system in place for processing parliamentary questions, where questions are categorised using a colour code. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: No. The Department aims to ensure that Members received a substantive response to their named day question on the named day and to answer ordinary written questions within a working week of them being tabled. This is not always possible but the Department makes every effort to achieve this.
Information on the network of post office branches broken down by Government office region is produced by POL on a quarterly basis. The latest information on the network at the end of September shows a total of 540 post office branches in Northern Ireland, 160 branches are classified as urban and 380 branches are classified as rural.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Some 2,500 urban sub-post offices closed under Post Office Ltd.'s urban reinvention programme. The DTI has funded payments totalling £153 million for compensated closures under the programme.
The sale of Westinghouse was completed on 16 October.
The Government remain committed to selling the Tote and have been in discussions over the summer with Racing to determine whether it is likely to be able to make an offer that achieves policy objectives and safeguards value for money for the taxpayer. Other sale options will be considered if we are unable to sell the business to Racing.
We have stated that the Government are actively considering selling part of their interest in British Energy.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what account he took of (a) his Departments economic impact assessment and (b) other academic and research studies commissioned by his Department and the Department for Work and Pensions when he made the decision on a mandatory retirement age. 
I refer the hon. Member to my answer given on 30 October 2006, Official Report, columns 93-94W, and my answer of 22 November 2006, Official Report, column 125W. During the course of the extensive consultative process on proposals for how the legislation should tackle mandatory retirement ages, and the formulation of the regulations, we considered and assessed the evidence available to us, including our assessment of the relative costs and benefits of the options identified in our partial
regulatory impact assessments, as well as research commissioned by the Department for Trade and Industry and the Department for Work and Pensions. The Governments decision to provide for a default retirement age of 65 with a right for employees to request working longer best met the aims that we were seeking to achieve.
(a) Science and Innovation Investment Framework 2004-2014 and subsequent annual progress reports set out in detail the actions taken by the Government to enhance the science base in the UK economy, including measures to enhance the UK's world class research standing, increase knowledge transfer, improve its responsiveness to the needs of the economy, increase business engagement and ensure a strong supply of scientists, engineers and technologists. The Government have more than doubled the Science Budget from £1.3 billion in 1997 to £3.2 billion in 2006 to support their ambition to make the UK the first destination in the world for science and innovation.
(b) Science and Innovation Investment Framework 2004-2014: Next Steps published alongside Budget 2006 sets out the Government's proposals to continue to enhance the research base and includes plans to further develop the Technology Strategy Board as a business-led arms-length body, extend research and development tax credits to companies with between 250 and 500 employees, provide a more coherent framework for health research and development and reforms to the Research Assessment Exercise.
Copies of the Science and Innovation Investment Framework 2004-2014, Science and Innovation Investment Framework 2004-2014 Annual Reports 2005, 2006 and Next Steps are available in the House Library or from the DTI website at:
Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which staff in his Department are seconded from organisations with charitable status; and which have (a) costs and (b) salaries met (i) in part and (ii) in whole (A) from public funds and (B) by the charity from which they are seconded. 
Mr. McCartney: According to the most recent data available, local authorities in Great Britain will spend an estimated £2.06 million on training for their trading standards staff in 2006-07. This will include training towards professional qualifications as well as other, more generic, training courses.
The data are held by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and this is the first year that they have reported specifically on local authority trading standards departments' training budgets. As a consequence, comparable data are not available for previous years.
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