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Equality Commissions

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Funding for FY 2006–07 for the CRE and DRC is being planned as follows:

The relevant sponsor department decides each commission's funding in the light of the commission's plans and departmental priorities.

Officials are finalising the allocation for the Equal Opportunities Commission, including funding in respect of its work to promote the forthcoming gender duty. There have been discussions with the EOC around this. All DTI budgets are currently being finalised in a very tough public expenditure climate.

The resource budget allocation for the EOC for 2005–06 is £9.75 million. This is made up of a baseline funding of £8.005 million plus one-off additional DTI
 
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funding of £l.7 million, giving a total of £9.75 million. This included £500,000 that was ring fenced for gender duty work.

Estate Agents

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Estate Agents Act 1979 regulates the conduct of estate agents in the course of estate agency work and gives the Office of Fair Trading the power to prohibit a person from acting as an estate agent.

The Government are planning to improve the regulation of estate agents. In particular we will implement the provisions in the Housing Act 2004 concerning a redress scheme (such as an ombudsman) for estate agents by requiring agents to belong to such a scheme when home information packs (HIPs) are mandated under the Act—expected to be on 1 June 2007. The Government also intend to bring forward legislation to extend both the geographical scope of such a redress scheme and the kind of complaints that can be determined (since the 2004 Act applies only to England and Wales and concerns only complaints in relation to HIPs).

The Government also plan to consult on other steps to improve the regulation of estate agents.

EU: Anti-dumping

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Since the Commission headed by President Barroso took office on 22 November 2004, a total of 41 anti-dumping investigations have been initiated. Of these 15 relate to the opening of new anti-dumping cases and 26 relate to reviews of existing anti-dumping cases.

EU: Water Framework Directive

The Duke of Montrose asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Bach): The Environment Agency is currently carrying out a strategic review of hydrology expertise within the organisation to ensure that we have the capacity to meet our future obligations, including those related to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). At this stage, the exact number of hydrologists needed is not known.

Financial Services

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McKenzie of Luton: The European Commission has not proposed charging VAT on supplies of financial services to consumers. As part of a public consultation, it is seeking views on a number of options to modernise the current rules and address VAT issues facing the sector.

The Government welcome this review of the VAT treatment of financial and insurance services: it gives member states the opportunity to modernise the existing legislation, which has been in place since 1977.

The review is at an early stage. The Government are working with interested business groups to ensure that the UK position is fully informed by an understanding of the potential impact of any future proposals on government revenues, the financial services sector and UK consumers.

Fish

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Bach): Most wild-caught fish imported into the UK as pets are tropical species. No specific assessment has been made of mortalities on arrival or of mortalities between arrival and point of sale. However, all commercial consignments of live fish imported directly to the UK from third countries must be routed through a border inspection post and all
 
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consignments are subject to a programme of targeted inspection. Evidence from this inspection programme suggests that mortalities account for approximately 1 per cent of consignments of live fish.

Footwear

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): When the provisional anti-dumping duty is fully imposed in September this year at a rate of 19.4 per cent for China and 16.8 per cent for Vietnam, the European Commission estimates that it will add approximately €1.50 (about £1) per pair to the import price of certain footwear with uppers of leather, based on an average import price of €8.50 per pair. Special technology athletic footwear (STAF), children's footwear and footwear with a protective toecap have been excluded from the duty. Sports footwear and indoor footwear will continue to remain free from anti-dumping duty, as they were not subject to the anti-dumping investigation.

The precise impact on trade, employment and consumers will depend on the extent to which supply and distribution chains are able to or choose to absorb the duty and this is not yet clear.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: This figure is not available from official statistics but the latest figures from the British Footwear Association show that in 2005 UK-produced footwear took 1.5 per cent of the UK market by volume, 5 per cent by value. The difference in the two figures is because UK production is concentrated on higher value products.


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