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Green Transport Co-ordinator

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he appointed a Green Transport co-ordinator; and on what date the appointment took effect. [32477]

Mr. Fatchett [holding answer 3 March 1998]: The Guide to Green Transport Plans circulated last September by the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Mr. Jackson), encouraged Departments to appoint green transport co-ordinators. My Department is actively considering this issue.

Car Parking

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has (a) to reduce the number of car parking spaces available for use by staff and (b) to introduce charges for staff using workplace car parking spaces. [32458]

Mr. Fatchett [holding answer 3 March 1998]: In line with the Guide to Green Transport Plans circulated last September by the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, my hon. Friend The Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Ms Jackson) my Department will actively be considering the issue in preparing Green Transport Plans for its key buildings.

Gas Imports

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the security of supply of Britain's gas imports over the next 25 years. [32054]

Mr. Battle: I have been asked to reply.

This issue is being addressed as part of the Review of Energy Sources for Power Generation.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Company Law

Mr. Caplin: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans she has for the reform of company law; and if she will make a statement. [33143]

Mrs. Beckett: I am today publishing a consultation paper, "Modern Company Law for a Competitive Economy". The paper sets out my plans for a major review of company law and its relationship with corporate governance codes. The review will focus on the Companies Act 1985. Insolvency and Financial Services legislation will not in general fall within its scope.

The review is an important part of the Government's strategy to modernise the nation. While much of the relevant statute has stood the test of time, the review will ensure that company law statute can continue to underpin

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the growth, competitiveness and accountability of British companies into the 21 Century. It will, for example, consider whether, taking account of partnership law and the proposed Limited Liability Partnership, business has the right choice of legislative vehicles for growth. It will address the complexity of the current legislation, and ensure a structure that is clear to users; and it will seek a flexible framework of regulation which is cost effective for companies, and fair to all interests.

The review will be a considered, consultative and long-term process. A Steering Group, chaired by my Department, will manage the review process; and there will be a widely-based Consultative Committee to ensure active representation of all wider interests. Full public consultation will continue at the end of this year with the first report of a first expert working group, and will continue throughout the process.

The review will culminate in the publication of a White Paper on proposed company law reforms, towards the end of this Parliament.

Employment Agencies

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans she has to require employment and labour agencies to register with her Department. [32122]

Mr. Ian McCartney: My officials are considering the regulatory structure for the recruitment industry. In due course we plan to issue a consultation document on the existing regulations governing agency conduct, and I am also ready to listen to all suggestions concerning the wider regulation of the industry, including proposals for a registration system.

Dounreay

Ms Roseanna Cunningham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade how much (a) public, (b) private and (c) overseas money has been spent on modifying UKAEA's D2670 plant at Dounreay Nuclear Establishment to enable the reprocessing of spent fuel from the ICI TRIGA reactor at Billingham; if she will list the countries of origin of the overseas money; and if she will make a statement. [31749]

Mr. Battle: No public money will be spent on modifying the D2670 plant to undertake this work as the contractual arrangements with ICI allow for the full recovery of UKAEA's costs. Any funds required from the private sector and their sources are a matter for ICI.

Duty Free

Mr. Cox: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what action her Department is taking to express the views of the United Kingdom within the European Union on the proposed abolition of the European Duty Free purchasing schemes in 1999. [24080]

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Mrs. Beckett: European Community excise and VAT issues are discussed in the Economic and Finance Council where the United Kingdom is represented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment she has made of the Pieda Report on the impact of the abolition of duty free sales on the Scotch whisky industry; and if she will make a statement. [29456]

Mrs. Roche [holding answer 17 February 1998]: My Department is currently examining the contents of the report.

Correspondence

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is her policy for responding to letters received in the (a) Scottish Gaelic, (b) Welsh, (c) Urdu, (d) Hindi and (e) Chinese language. [28064]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 10 February 1998]: My Department seeks to respond in the language of the letter received.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will publish in the Official Report her letter of 25 February 1998 to the hon. Member for Wokingham concerning the BEUA. [32686]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 3 March 1998]: No.

Assisted Area Status

Dr. Ladyman: To ask the President of the Board of Trade on how many occasions regional selective assistance has been granted to an investor in an area of intermediate assisted area status at a level higher than usual level because of the potential impact the investment will have on an adjacent area with full assisted area status in each region of England in 1997. [32556]

Mrs. Roche: The ceilings for regional selective assistance in intermediate and development areas are fixed by the EU and cannot be exceeded. The Government also impose cost per job limits on the total RSA that can be offered to individual projects. Within these limits each case is judged on its own merits. One case was approved for exceptional treatment above the internal limits in 1997.

Sulphur Protocol

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade when the Government will announce its conclusions on the sulphur protocol, and its impact on the coal industry. [31880]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 27 February 1998]: The UNECE Second Sulphur Protocol was signed in 1994 and ratified in 1996 by the previous Government. The Government have no plans to announce retrospective conclusions on the Protocol and its impacts.

Coal Purchases

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade to what extent the agreements by the generators to bring forward purchases of coal from the third to the second quarter of 1998 are enforceable. [32692]

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Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 3 March 1998]: The implementation of the terms of the arrangements made in December between the electricity generators and RJB Mining is a matter for the parties concerned.

Inward Investment

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what ceiling she plans to place on offers of grant made by the regional development agencies to inward investors. [32680]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 3 March 1998]: The Government have made clear in their White Paper "Building Partnerships for Prosperity" (Cm 3814), that Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) will remain the responsibility of my Department. The Regional Development Agencies will have no responsibility for making offers of RSA scheme grants.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what communications she has received from the Northern Development Corporation concerning the concordat on Inward Investment; and if she has replied. [32679]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 3 March 1998]: My Department and the Northern Development Company communicate with each other on a regular basis on a wide range of business. I regard this correspondence as confidential.


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