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INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Ministerial Travel (Trains)

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development on what date she last used a train in the course of her official duties. [22937]

Clare Short: I last used a train in the course of my official duties on 17 December 1997.

Overseas Visits

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will list all overseas visits made since 1 May 1997 on which she or any other Minister in her Department has been accompanied under Rule 83 of the Ministerial Code, indicating (a) who accompanied him or her and (b) the cost to public funds of each such visit. [23255]

Clare Short: Neither I nor the Under-Secretary have been accompanied on overseas visits under Rule 83 of the Ministerial Code.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL

Overseas Visits

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Attorney-General if he will list all overseas visits made since 1 May 1997 on which he has been accompanied under Rule 83 of the Ministerial Code, indicating (a) who accompanied him (b) the cost to public funds of each such visit. [23262]

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The Attorney-General: I was accompanied on my visit to Dublin on 17-18 September 1997 by my wife and an official. The total cost to public funds was £1,212.50.

Ministerial Travel (Trains)

Mr. Baker: To ask the Attorney-General on what date he last used a train in the course of his official duties. [22930]

The Attorney-General: I travelled to Cardiff by train on 12 December 1997 to visit the Crown Prosecution Service office there.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Low Pay Commission

Mr. Baldry: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what evidence the Government have submitted to the Low Pay Commission; and if it will make such evidence public. [23045]

Mr. Ian McCartney: The Government will be submitting written evidence to the Low Pay Commission shortly. The evidence will be placed in the Library of the House.

Launch Aid

Mr. Cousins: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will list the projects on which launch aid had been granted before, and on which payment was outstanding on, 1 May 1997, the total sum granted in each case and the payments (i) received in (a) 1995-96 and (b) 1996-97 and (ii) projected for 1997-98. [22980]

Mr. Battle: The following table details all the projects on which launch aid was outstanding at 1 May 1997 (all figures in £ million), together with amounts received by the Government in the form of levy payments for years 1995-96 and 1996-97. Forecast receipts are not disclosed in advance of the end of the financial year for reasons of commercial confidentiality; such information may be market sensitive in cases where the Companies concerned have not published their financial results for the relevant period.

£ million
ProjectTotal sum grantedPayments received
1995-961996-97
A320 Family of Aircraft249.329.342.7
A330/340 Aircraft447.1NilNil
RB211-535 Aeroengine261.813.515.2
RB211-524 Aeroengine177.61.52.4
V2500 Aeroengine60.02.03.7
EH101 Helicopter60.0NilNil
Lear 45 Executive Jet17.7NilNil

Mr. Cousins: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will list the projects which have been granted launch aid since 1 May 1997, the sum granted and the number of jobs secured. [22981]

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Mr. Battle: On the 12 November 1997, the Government announced a long term investment of up to £200 million in Rolls-Royce plc's large engine programme. The investment is expected to secure 16,000 jobs in the Company and its UK suppliers.

No other projects have been granted Launch Aid since 1 May 1997.

Enemy Property

Mr. McNulty: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when she expects to publish the report on British policy towards enemy property during and after the Second World War; and what action she will take. [23908]

Mrs. Beckett: My hon. Friend the Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs announced on 31 July 1997, Official Report, column 641 that the Government had commissioned a research project, to examine papers relevant to the Trading with the Enemy legislation under which the property of residents of enemy countries was confiscated during the Second World War. The project which has been co-ordinated by the FCO in close partnership with the DTI is nearing completion. The Government are considering the project's findings and will publish their response together with the report soon.

The Government, however, recognise that some of the information currently held at the Public Record Office will be of particular interest to Holocaust survivors or their families who may wish to check their family history. The Government therefore intend to publish a list of the names and other details of those who had their property seized under the Trading with the Enemy legislation. This cannot be a complete list as many individual case records have not been retained. However officials are examining the remaining records to see what information can be provided and it is estimated that the list will cover some 25,000 names. It is intended to publish the list on the Internet as soon as possible but the size and complexity of the task makes it difficult to be specific on the timing at this stage. The Government are committed to openness on this issue and believe that the publication of the report and of the list of names should make a large contribution to the public's understanding of this complex subject and help the relatives of holocaust victims to research their family history.

Biotechnology

Mr. Baker: To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms Walley) of 18 December 1997, Official Report, column 308, concerning public consultation on the proposed European Biotechnology Patent Directive, if she will ensure that representatives from (a) other political parties and (b) groups ethically opposed to biotechnology, will be invited to the events he plans to host. [22914]

Mr. Battle: The purpose of the discussion meeting I shall be hosting next month is to determine how best to develop a public consultation activity with a view to develop a consensus. The focus will therefore be on the process associated with this type of activity, rather than a discussion of the issues raised by biotechnology as this would pre-judge the public attitudes, which we are seeking to understand.

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I shall be inviting people based upon their relevant experience and ability to contribute to the stated purpose of the meeting rather than on the basis of their views of the biological sciences.

The public activity to be held in the summer will of course have no value unless there is access to a wide range of informed opinion to draw on as providers of evidence to the exercise.

Nuclear Fusion Research

Dr. Tonge: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans she has to commission further research into nuclear fusion; and if she will make a statement on progress. [23463]

Mr. Battle: The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) carry out an on-going programme of research into nuclear fusion. This is supported by my Department, and it forms part of the European Union's fusion programme. Later this year, the UKAEA will complete and commission an important new experimental device--the mega-amp spherical tokamak (MAST).

Both the European and UK programmes have made progress in the last year. The Joint European Torus achieved world-record values for fusion power and fusion energy. On a smaller scale, the UKAEA's small tight aspect ratio tokamak (START) achieved world record values for the efficiency of plasma confinement. Although the research is meeting and exceeding its targets, it is still thought to be at least 50 years before we could build commercial fusion power stations.

Science Budget

Mr. Roy: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will make a statement on the allocation of the science budget. [23909]

Mr. Battle: I have discussed the allocations with the Director General of Research Councils and have decided that, subject to Parliamentary approval of the Supply Estimates in due course, the Science Budget of £1,338.326 million should be allocated as follows:

Science Budget allocations

£ million
Allocation 1997-98Allocation 1998-99
BBSRC183.300185.739
ESRC64.89665.990
EPSRC386.373382.982
MRC289.070290.208
NERC165.116171.771
PPARC191.850191.268
International Subscription Reserve8.8003.028
CCLRC1.4501.462
Pensions11.53012.298
Royal Society22.27122.621
Royal Academy3.3703.436
OST Initiatives2.3022.376
Joint Research Equipment Initiative--4.147
LINK/Foresight--1.000
Total1,330.3271,338.326

An additional £4.2 million has been made available for the Joint Research Equipment Initiative to increase the £5.4 million already set aside by the Research Councils for the third round of the initiative.


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