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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 22 January 2001


Wild Mammals (Hunting with Dogs) Bill

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the occasions on which he stated in public that the Wild Mammals (Hunting with Dogs) Bill, introduced in Session 1997-98, had been blocked in the House of Lords. [146438]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave in the House to his hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Soames) on 17 January 2001, Official Report, columns 344-45.

Ministerial Interests (Property Lettings)

Mr. Ian Bruce: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list those Ministers that (a) have interests in the letting of property and (b) use the letting and relocation company Cendant (i) to let their properties and (ii) to purchase new ones; and if he will list those ministries that use Cendant for relocating and housing their civil servants. [146279]

The Prime Minister: Guidance to Ministers on handling financial interests is set out in the Ministerial Code. Detailed information in the form requested is not held centrally.

Holocaust Memorial Day

Mr. Butterfill: To ask the Prime Minister how he is planning to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day; and how the Cabinet will be commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day. [146375]

The Prime Minister: Together with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and other ministerial colleagues, I am planning to attend the national ceremony in central London on the evening of Saturday 27 January.



Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he will reply to the letter sent to him by the hon. Member for Lewes, dated 14 June. [144378]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 9 January 2001]: As the letter refers to issues which are not relevant to my responsibilities as Secretary of State, it is being dealt with by my constituency office.

Parental Leave

Mr. Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received on the introduction of paid parental leave. [146122]

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Mr. Alan Johnson: In developing the Green Paper "Work and Parents: Competitiveness and Choice", a large number of meetings were held with employers and their representatives, employees and their representatives and voluntary organisations. Paid parental leave was discussed at many of these meetings alongside many other matters. A list of many of those who contributed to the review was included in the Green Paper.

Defence-related Debt

Mr. Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage of the debt owed to the United Kingdom by heavily indebted poor countries is for defence-related business; and what the value of this debt is. [145933]

Mr. Caborn: Records indicate that less than one per cent. (under £20 million) of debt owed to the ECGD by Heavily Indebted Poor Countries is for defence-related business.


Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answer of 16 January 2000, Official Report, columns 218-19W, on manufacturing, what procedures are in place for interested outside bodies, including employers' organisations and trade unions, to make representations to the ministerial groups which discuss industrial issues including job losses. [146485]

Mr. Alan Johnson: Ministers receive frequent representations from outside bodies interested in industrial issues, including job losses. These are taken into account in discussions in the informal ministerial meetings and groups to which I referred.

Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list those sections of United Kingdom manufacturing industry in which his Department expects to see (a) earnings growth and (b) job growth. [146921]

Mr. Alan Johnson: My Department does not make forecasts of earnings growth and employment growth in manufacturing sectors.

Working Time Directive

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what guidance he has issued to small employers regarding the Working Time Directive Regulations. [146507]

Mr. Alan Johnson: Guidance on the Working Time Regulations, aimed at employers and workers alike, has been available since the Working Time Regulations came into force on 1 October 1998. New 'user friendly' guidance was issued on 30 March 2000, following discussions with representatives from both sides of industry on the format. The document is easier to navigate, which assists smaller businesses with limited resources.

A copy of the current guidance is held in the Library of the House.

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Employment Tribunals

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he plans to publish his proposals to amend employment tribunal procedure rules. [146054]

Mr. Alan Johnson: I refer my hon. Friend to my written answer on 27 November 2000, Official Report, columns 381-82W. I expect to lay the amendments to the regulations before Parliament in early March, subject to completion of statutory consultation with the Council on Tribunals.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what guidance he will issue to employment tribunals on differentiating between a weak case which has no real chance of success and a case with merit which may be unsuccessful. [146055]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The regulations will provide that an application or a defence may be struck out on the grounds that it discloses no reasonable grounds for bringing or defending the complaint. It will be clear that this provision applies to cases which have no real prospect of success rather than an arguable case.

The employment tribunals are independent judicial bodies and the application of the regulations in an individual case is for them to determine.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many applications were registered by the Employment Tribunal Service in 1999-2000; how many applications were successful; in how many cases costs were awarded; in how many cases costs were awarded against the respondent; and what the average costs were in each case. [146056]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The Employment Tribunals Service registered 103,935 applications in 1999-2000. During this period, a total of 83,409 cases were disposed of, of which 10,349 (12 per cent.) were successful at a hearing. Costs were awarded in 407 cases (0.48 per cent.), of which 291 were awarded against the respondent. The average cost award was £1,700.09.

Renewable Energy

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the reasons for excluding energy from waste from the Renewables Obligations. [146381]

Mrs. Liddell: No final decision has yet been made on the renewables that will be included in the Obligation.

The various sources of renewable energy are at different stages of development. In our October 2000 Consultation Document on the Renewables Obligation, we took the view that large-scale hydro (i.e. exceeding 10 MW installed capacity) and energy from waste (energy recovery from municipal solid waste and from mixed streams of industrial and commercial waste) could be seen as already commercially viable, well established in the market, and able to compete with electricity from fossil fuels. This view took into account the indirect support provided to energy from waste projects by the landfill tax. The Government invited views on the proposal that these two renewable energy sources, large-scale hydro and

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energy from waste, should be excluded from the Obligation, in order to enable resources to be concentrated on those renewables needing continued support.

The response to the consultation has been considerable and diverse and is being carefully analysed before decisions are made.

Sub-post Offices (Scotland)

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many sub-post offices have (a) reduced opening hours and (b) closed (i) permanently and (ii) on a temporary basis since May 1997 in each Scottish local authority area; and if he will make a statement. [145907]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 16 January 2001]: The Post Office does not hold figures by local authority area.

Post Office

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which Post Office assets have been written off as part of the £100 million exceptional charge in the first half 2000-01 accounts. [144145]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 8 January 2001]: I have been informed by the Post Office that a small charge was included against restructuring costs for overseas acquisitions as certain operations were merged and redundant ones closed.

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