Previous Section Index Home Page

10 Sep 2007 : Column 2024W—continued


Electronic Equipment: Waste Disposal

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate his Department has made of the number of distributors of electronic equipment who are not in a distributor take-back scheme or offering a take-back yourself service; and if he will make a statement. [149076]

Malcolm Wicks: All retailers of electrical and electronic equipment are obligated to offer in store take-back unless they are members of the distributor takeback scheme. Over 2,500 retailers have joined the scheme—accounting for more than 75 per cent. of EEE retailing by sales.

The Department will be working with the enforcement agency to ensure that distributors are meeting this obligation. Free-riding will not be tolerated, and a robust process will be in place to serve notice and ultimately prosecute distributors who are unwilling to become compliant.

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many council recycling centres (a) have and (b) do not have a partnership with a manufacturer's scheme for waste electrical and electronic equipment; and what estimate has been made of the cost to councils of the facilities to collect and recycle and the running of civic amenity sites necessary for the implementation of the waste electrical and electronic equipment directive. [151736]

Malcolm Wicks: Around 75 per cent. of local authorities have or are finalising agreements for clearance of their sites by producer compliance schemes. We expect all local authorities to have reached agreements with schemes in the next couple of months. Where agreements are not yet in place, local authorities can arrange for any waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) they separately collect to be treated by approved authorised treatment facilities, and then recover their costs via the settlement centre.

Local authorities are receiving between £6,000 to £9,000 per civic amenity site to finance any additional site improvements needed to accommodate separate WEEE collection areas. This is in addition to monies already provided to make site changes in advance of the introduction of the Hazardous Waste Regulations in July 2005. The costs of running civic amenity sites are covered by the local government settlement and no specific allocation has been made for WEEE collection as part of the settlement.

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much has been spent by his Department on (a) advertising and promotional activities relating to and (b) the implementation of the waste electrical and electronic equipment directive. [151934]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department has spent around a quarter of a million pounds on communications and awareness raising activities since the final consultation on the draft WEEE regulations began in July 2006.

The estimated costs of implementing the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) directive are set out in the final regulatory impact assessment which was published when the WEEE Regulations were laid on 12 December 2006.

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether the Government has set aside contingency funds for any fines likely to result from failure to meet the deadlines of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive. [153749]

Mr. Timms: The UK Government make every effort to avoid incurring any fines in respect of the late transposition of European Commission directives. The waste electrical and electronic equipment directive has now been implemented in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is considered very unlikely that the UK will be subject to any fines.

Employment: Industrial Disputes

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many employment disputes were presented to tribunals in each of the last five years; and what estimate he has made of the number of cases which were settled before tribunal. [151873]

Mr. McFadden: The number of claims presented to employment tribunals is provided in the Tribunals Service (Employment) annual reports, available from Tribunals Service website. The Department has no information on the number of employment disputes that are privately settled before a tribunal claim is made.


10 Sep 2007 : Column 2025W

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how his Department defines (a) conciliation, (b) mediation and (c) arbitration for the purpose of guidance on employment disputes; and if he will make a statement. [151891]

Mr. McFadden: The terms in question are not defined in statute. They describe various forms of third-party intervention with the aim of resolving workplace disputes, but the nature of the processes to which each refers can differ according to whether they are being used in the context of collective or individual employment disputes.

Collective employment disputes

S210 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 states that:

Conciliation is a flexible process. It can be carried out in different ways according to the context of the dispute and the needs of the parties; although it always involves discussing the issues with both sides with a view to finding and recording a mutually acceptable solution. The distinguishing features of conciliation in collective employment disputes are that participation is voluntary for the parties; the conciliator’s role is purely facilitative (i.e. he/she cannot formally recommend a solution or give any form of determination on the issues); and that a settlement reached in conciliation is not of itself binding in law (although on some substantive issues the outcome may be a change in employees’ terms and conditions which may be incorporated into contracts of employment).

In practice, conciliation is always the first step in third-party collective dispute resolution. Only if a settlement cannot be achieved by this means will parties be encouraged to consider arbitration or mediation. Formal Terms of Reference must be agreed and drawn up before a dispute can be put to arbitration or mediation, and these are generally brokered with the assistance of a conciliator.

S212 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 states that:

The key distinguishing feature of arbitration in collective disputes is that the role of the arbitrator (in Scotland, the title is “arbiter”) is to give a formal determination on the issues put before him or her. However, participation remains voluntary for the parties; and an arbitration decision is not of itself binding in law (although as with agreements reached in conciliation, the outcome can result in a change in
10 Sep 2007 : Column 2026W
employees’ terms and conditions which may be incorporated into contracts of employment).

Neither in the 1992 Act nor any other employment legislation is there explicit mention of mediation. However, in the collective employment relations context this term refers to a variant of arbitration under which the third party makes formal recommendations rather than giving a determination. Parties entering into mediation are free to choose to accept, ignore, or use the recommendations to inform further negotiation. In other respects, the two are essentially indistinguishable.

Individual employment disputes

S211 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 states that:

The role of conciliation officers in individual rights claims is set out in S18 of the Industrial Tribunals Act 1996:

S18(3) of the 1996 Act extends the conciliator’s role to resolving certain individual disputes in which no claim has as yet been presented to an employment tribunal:

Conciliation in individual rights disputes shares almost all the features of conciliation in collective disputes. The process is flexible and can be carried out in various ways according to the context and the needs of the parties, but will always involve discussing the issues with both sides with a view to finding and recording a mutually acceptable solution. Participation is voluntary for the parties, and the conciliator’s role is purely facilitative (i.e. he/she cannot formally recommend a solution or give any form of determination on the issues). The critical difference, however, is that a settlement reached in the course of conciliation under S18 is legally binding in that it disposes of the claim(s) or potential claim(s) to the employment tribunal to which the terms of the settlement agreement refer.

The use of arbitration in individual disputes is confined to the Acas Arbitration Scheme, which was introduced as a result of provisions created by the
10 Sep 2007 : Column 2027W
Employment Rights (Dispute Resolution) Act 1998 to provide a voluntary alternative to the employment tribunal for resolution of unfair dismissal disputes. The Scheme was introduced on 21 May 2001, initially only in England and Wales, and was extended to cover Scotland on 6 April 2004. Under the ACAS (Flexible Working) Arbitration Scheme (England and Wales) Order 2003, and analogous Scottish legislation, the Scheme was widened on 61 April 2003 to allow for referrals to arbitration in respect of claims or prospective claims under the Flexible Working Regulations 2003 which came into force on the same date.

The process of arbitration in individual disputes has much in common with that in collective disputes. Participation is voluntary for the parties. Independent arbitrators /arbiters are appointed by and paid through ACAS (but are not employees of that organisation) and give a formal determination on the issues put before them. However, in contrast to the situation in collective disputes, an arbitration decision under the statutory Scheme is binding in law, and effectively has the same force as a decision of an employment tribunal.

There is no direct parallel in individual dispute resolution for the directive form of mediation carried out in collective disputes. The term “mediation” is used in relation to the resolution of individual workplace disputes; but to describe quite different processes. Nor is the term used consistently by all commentators or practitioners. For instance, some take it to encompass all non-directive forms of third-party dispute resolution, while there are others who only use it in respect of interventions which apply certain techniques or practices. Neither these nor any of the other ways in which the term is presently used affords an entirely satisfactory definition, and so instead BERR has used the word “mediation” to describe any non-directive third-party individual dispute resolution other than that conducted by ACAS under SI 8 of the 1996 Act, which continues to be defined as conciliation. The difference between mediation and conciliation in individual rights claims therefore lies in the statutory context rather than the techniques or the identity of the provider.

Energy Supply

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the total amount of power, measured in gigawatt hours, produced in the UK by (a) coal, (b) oil, (c) gas and (d) nuclear power stations was in 2005-06; and if he will make a statement. [152928]

Malcolm Wicks: According to table 5.1 of BERR’s latest “Energy Trends” publication (http://www.berr. gov.uk/files/file40156.pdf), the total amount of electricity supplied in the UK during 2005-06 was as follows:

GWh

(a) coal

136,670

(b) oil

5,540

(c) gas

143,730

(d) nuclear

75,000


Apart from renewables, it is the Government’s policy not to target the proportion of electricity generated by
10 Sep 2007 : Column 2028W
different fuel types. These are commercial decisions for generators in a market framework designed to incentivise security of supply and carbon dioxide abatement.

Energy: France

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what new joint energy initiatives were agreed with President Sarkozy during his visit to France on 20 July 2007; and whether any additional resources have been committed to support the initiatives. [153482]

Malcolm Wicks: While my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and President Sarkozy did not endorse any new joint energy initiatives, they did agree to seek EU agreement for reduced rates of VAT for energy efficient products and energy saving materials. This would supplement existing UK VAT relief for the installation of certain energy-saving materials in houses and other residential accommodation, and the installation of certain renewable energy technologies.

Ethnic Groups: Equal Opportunities

Ms Abbott: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment his Department has made of the effect of staff redundancies on the promotion of race equality; and if he will make a statement. [151874]

Mr. Thomas: A full diversity impact assessment covering race, disability, gender, sexual orientation, age and religion and belief is being completed. This contains considerable detailed analysis on the diversity and race profile of staff in the Department and those whose posts may be reduced as part of the restructuring of the Department. It is my intention that the diversity impact assessment will be published in December 2007.

The Department is committed to the promotion of diversity and to the achievement of the targets set out in the Diversity Strategy, including improvements in targets and culture change and to ensuring that relocation and restructuring proposals follow best practice in relation to diversity. During the current restructuring process, the Department has established a good and productive relationship with the trade unions through regular formal and informal consultations. The trade unions have acknowledged the high level of support offered to staff.

Ms Abbott: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how his Department monitors staff and ethnicity data to identify any patterns of inequality or discrimination; and if he will make a statement. [151875]

Mr. Thomas: The Department's Diversity Statement includes the aim to have a workforce that reflects the diverse community we serve, and the commitment to value and make the best use of the diversity of talent in the Department so that our people fulfil their potential and create the conditions for business success.

Staff and ethnicity data are monitored in various different ways. These include:


10 Sep 2007 : Column 2029W

The Department annually reviews progress against action plans detailed in the race equality scheme as part of the annual Departmental Report and legislation requires that the Secretary of State reviews and reports on the equality schemes every three years, the first of which is due in 2008. No departmental policies to date have been assessed as having adverse implications or demonstrating inequality or discrimination.


Next Section Index Home Page