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8 Jan 2007 : Column 314W—continued


The Department of Health, the Home Office, the Department for Transport and the Department for Work and Pensions do not contribute to the RDA's core grant (the Single Pot).

RDA allocations for 2006-07 and 2007-08
£ million
Regional Development Agencies

2006-07

2,319

2007-08

2,309


Regulation (EC) No. 2006/2004

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what information is (a) exchanged, (b) stored and (c) passed on to non-EU countries in connection with Regulation (EC) No. 2006/2004; what right of access individuals have to data on themselves so held; which agencies are expected to seek access to such data; what the aim is of the legislation; and if he will make a statement. [108155]

Mr. McCartney: The aim of Regulation (EC) No. 2006/2004 is to formalise and improve co-operation arrangements between member states’ consumer enforcement authorities, in order to better combat cross-border frauds and scams. Its focus is on practices that affect the collective interest of consumers, rather than complaints affecting only individuals, and its scope is limited to the 15 pieces of EC consumer protection legislation named in the annex to the regulation.

Basic details of alleged infringements such as business names and details of the complaint will be transmitted from one country’s Single Liaison Office to another’s and then on to the relevant enforcer by means of a secure database.

Access to the database is limited to enforcers designated as competent authorities and national Single Liaison Offices (in the UK, the Office of Fair Trading). Single Liaison Offices will only have access to information relating to requests for mutual assistance which have not been given confidential treatment. Non-EU countries do not have access to the database. The regulation does anticipate entering into arrangements with third (that is, non-EU) countries but none are in place at present, and any future arrangements should have appropriate safeguards.

Data held on the database will be subject to the provisions and protections of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). While the regulation requires us to prevent the subject access provisions of the DPA from
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being used by business to obstruct the proper functioning of the regulation, we are satisfied that this fact should not cause problems in practice because appropriate safeguards have been built in.

Research Projects

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the 20 largest by value projects were funded through the research councils in 2005-06. [109315]

Malcolm Wicks: The following table provides details of the 20 largest items by expenditure by the UK Research Councils in the financial year 2005-06.

£ million
Expenditure in 2005-06

European Space Agency

101.9

CERN

79.1

Diamond Light Source

74.0

British Antarctic Survey

44.9

ISIS Target Station 2

42,4

ISIS Operations

35.6

MRC National Institute for Medical Research

33.6

Subscription for European Southern Observatory

32.9

MRC National Institute for Medical Research: Purchase of Land

28.0

Synchrotron Radiation Source Main Facility

27.7

British Geological Survey

27.5

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

22.6

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

20.9

Fusion

20.6

James Cook Research Vessel

15.9

International Subscriptions—Institut Laue Langevin

15.2

MRC Clinical Science Centre

14.7

MRC Laboratorie, The Gambia

9.6

MRC Human Genetics Unit

8.7

High Performance Computing

8.2


River Severn: Power Generation

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if his Department will assess the feasibility of power generation projects using hydroelectric plants on (a) existing and (b) new build weirs on the River Severn; and if he will assess the compatibility of any such projects with the river's flood defences. [112711]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department has no plans to commission a study to assess the feasibility of hydroelectric generation on the River Severn, using either existing or new weirs.

Royal Mail: Industrial Action

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with Royal Mail's (a) management and (b) trade unions on industrial action in Stafford and North Staffordshire. [112926]


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Jim Fitzpatrick: Royal Mail management has responsibility to resolve industrial disputes in the company.

The DTI is kept informed of cases of industrial action where there is significant disruption of postal services. I have been updated by the company about this specific dispute and the action being taken to mitigate the impact on consumers in Stafford and North Staffordshire. I encourage both the Royal Mail management and the unions to work together to resolve this dispute through negotiation.

Rural Areas

Helen Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what programmes of support his Department makes available to rural areas; and what the financial cost is expected to be in 2007-08. [104911]

Margaret Hodge: The Government are committed to building a strong economy and fair society where there is opportunity and security for all. This commitment applies equally in rural and urban areas. All the Department's business support products are available in both rural and urban areas. However, to provide information on the cost of these programmes in rural areas alone is only possible at disproportionate cost.

Scientific Publications Market

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has sent a response to the European Commission on its study on the economic and technical evolution of the scientific publications market in Europe. [112694]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 19 December 2006]: The DTI has not submitted a formal response to the European Commission on this study. DTI officials held a seminar with the authors of the report and with representation from the European Commission in June 2006 to give the UK scientific communications community the opportunity to express their views on the report. The DTI has informally discussed the report with relevant Commission officials.

Supermarkets

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how the Supermarkets Code of Practice is being monitored; and what action his Department has taken to ensure that it is implemented effectively. [109710]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 19 December 2006]: Competition in the grocery sector is a matter for the independent competition authorities and not the DTI. Ministers no longer have a role in this area.

The Supermarket Code of Practice remains in force, monitored by the OFT. The Competition Commission is able to recommend changes to the Supermarkets Code as part of its wider inquiry into the grocery market should it be deemed necessary.


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Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent assessment his Department has made of the likely impact of below-cost selling by supermarkets on the future of market choice for consumers. [109712]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 19 December 2006]: Competition in the grocery sector is a matter for the independent competition authorities and not the DTI. The Office of Fair Trading identified below-cost selling as an issue that could distort competition when it referred the grocery market to the Competition Commission for a market inquiry.

It is for the Competition Commission to make an assessment and decide if any action is necessary.

Tech Stars Steering Committee

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what date Sir Ronald Cohen was appointed to his Department’s Tech Stars Steering Committee; and what (a) salary and (b) expenses he has been paid since his appointment. [109199]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Tech Stars Steering Committee was set up in December 1997. It completed its task in August 2001. The Committee members were all unpaid. Reasonable expenses would have been reimbursed, but details of payments are no longer available.

Televisions: Disposal

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with television manufacturers on the environmentally safe disposal of redundant analogue television sets; and if he will make a statement. [110101]

Malcolm Wicks: Televisions disposed of following digital switchover will be subject to regulations implementing the EU Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) Directive, which requires producers, or those acting on their behalf, to set up systems for treatment, recovery and environmentally sound disposal of WEEE. The implementing regulations—The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2006—were laid before the House on 12 December following extensive consultation with business, including a number of television manufacturers.

UK Competitiveness Committee

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what date Sir Ronald Cohen was appointed to his Department’s UK Competitiveness Committee; and what (a) salary and (b) total expenses he has been paid since his appointment. [109198]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The UK Competitiveness Committee was established in November 1997. It completed its task in November 1998. The Committee members were all unpaid. Reasonable expenses would have been reimbursed, but details of payments are no longer available.


8 Jan 2007 : Column 318W

Union Modernisation Fund

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will assess the (a) value for money and (b) efficacy of the use of grants given under the Union Modernisation Fund in March 2006 to (i) Amicus, (ii) the Communications Workers Union, (iii) Prospect, (iv) GMB, (v) the Wales Trades Union Congress, (vi) Community, (vii) the Transport and General Workers Union, (viii) Connect and (ix) the National Union of Teachers; and if he will make a statement. [112868]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) on 19 December 2006, Official Report, column 1908W.

World Trade Organisation

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 30 November 2006, Official Report, column 815W, on the World Trade Organisation, whether he supports the reform of the World Trade Organisation. [113327]

Mr. McCartney: The Government remain fully committed to securing an ambitious, pro-development outcome to the Doha Development Agenda, and it would therefore be premature to open a debate on reform of the WTO at this time.

Written Questions

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many parliamentary written questions his Department received in each parliamentary session since 2001; and how many of these questions (a) were not answered because of disproportionate cost, (b) were not answered, (c) received answers referring back to a previous answer (i) asked by the hon. Member and (ii) asked by another hon. Member and (d) were grouped together for answer. [107464]

Jim Fitzpatrick: This information is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Wales

Carbon Neutrality

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales pursuant to his answer of 7 December 2006, Official Report, columns 578-79W, on carbon neutrality, how much his Department expects to contribute to the Carbon Offsetting Fund in the next financial year. [112844]

Mr. Hain: The Wales Office currently expects to contribute around £30 to the Carbon Offsetting Fund for Ministerial Air Travel in the next financial year.


8 Jan 2007 : Column 319W

EU Foreign Ministers Meeting

Mr. Paul Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with (a) the Home Secretary and (b) Gwent Police Authority on the costs of providing security for the meeting of European Union Foreign Ministers in Newport. [113061]

Mr. Hain: I understand that Gwent police will receive a special revenue grant for £2.67 million towards expenditure incurred in policing this event. Such grants are funded from a specific budget, top-sliced from the police funding settlement. In 2006-07 this budget stands at £10 million. All bids are considered on an individual case basis and approval is at the discretion of Home Office Ministers.

HM Revenue and Customs

Mr. Paul Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has to meet the Chancellor of the Exchequer to discuss the closure of the HM Revenue and Customs office in South Wales. [112986]

Mr. Hain: My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State wrote in November to the Paymaster General about the HM Revenue and Customs Change programme. He will also be meeting the Paymaster General in January to discuss the programme further.


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