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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 25 January 2001

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Diamond Synchrotron Project

Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many representations he has received on the removal of the diamond synchrotron project from Daresbury to Oxford since 1 April 2000. [145205]

Ms Hewitt: Since 1 April 2000, my Department has received 52 letters relating to the location of the diamond project.

Sub-post Offices

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what analysis he has undertaken of the reasons given by those in charge of sub-post offices for resigning from their posts in the last five years; and to what extent (a) the level of remuneration and (b) the perceived complexity of modern post office technology are factors in such decisions. [146945]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The Post Office conducts research on the reasons for resignation of sub-postmasters. That research is not undertaken to a regular timetable and therefore does not provide comparable data. Historical research on sub-postmaster resignations is not available.

However, internal Post Office research from exit interviews with sub-postmasters has been conducted in the last six months. Of the sample of sub-postmasters interviewed, 9 per cent. cited financial viability of the outlet and 6 per cent. cited computerisation of the post office network as the reasons for resignation.

Export Licences

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many visits the Export Control Organisation's Compliance Unit made to exporters to examine records held with regard to open individuals export licences in (a) 1997, (b) 1998 and (c) 1999, indicating the number of visits to each exporter. [146654]

Dr. Howells: The number of visits made by the Export Control Organisation's Compliance Unit are set out in the table:

YearNumber of compliance visits
1997371
1998388
1999477

The totals include visits to a small proportion of exporters who do not hold Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs), but are required to keep records as part of their usage of Open General Export Licences (OGELs).

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Information regarding the number of visits made to each exporter is not easily accessible and it would, therefore, entail disproportionate cost to establish the number of visits made to each company.

The Export Control Organisation's Compliance Unit visits exporters who hold Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs) on a regular basis. Where the exporter holds a licence for military list and certain dual-use goods it is normal practice to undertake such a visit yearly. For holders of licences for other dual-use goods, visits would normally take place every second year.

Science Funding (North-west)

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he will make an announcement concerning the submission made by John Moores University and TTL concerning its telescope project. [146855]

Ms Hewitt: The report of the North-West Science and Daresbury Development Group is being given careful consideration. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry will be meeting the group shortly to discuss its recommendations. The contents of the report will be made public in due course.

Huntingdon Life Sciences

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent contacts his Department has had with the Royal Bank of Scotland over Huntingdon Life Sciences. [146418]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 22 January 2001]: We have kept in close contact with all the relevant parties and welcome the agreement arrived at on 20 January.

Royal Mail Redirection Service

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with Royal Mail regarding the redirection service to overseas addresses; and if he will make a statement. [146613]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 23 January 2001]: I have had no discussions with Royal Mail concerning the redirection service to overseas addresses. This is an operational matter for the Post Office.

Car Technologies

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what consultations he has held with his ministerial colleagues on promoting initiatives to make use of the United Kingdom's expertise in motor sport and related technologies to develop improvements to reduce the environmental impact of future production cars. [146909]

Mr. Alan Johnson: HMG maintain a close working relationship with the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) on a range of issues to enhance the competitiveness of the UK motorsport industry, including the exploitation of related technologies. DTI Ministers and officials continue regular contacts with the major vehicle manufacturers, SMMT and DETR to look at ways of reducing the environmental impact of motor vehicles without reducing the UK's industrial competitiveness. In addition, the DTI-led Foresight Vehicle programme is the

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UK's national automotive R&D programme which is supporting collaborative R&D in a range of areas including environmental performance (emissions, fuel efficiency, lightweighting and telematics), enhanced safety and lean manufacturing.

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Sudan

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with the Government in Khartoum concerning Sudan's acceptance of an IMF audit for oil resources. [146828]

Clare Short: We have had no discussions with the Government in Khartoum about the IMF asking for an audit of oil resources. However, we continue to press for transparency in Government revenues and expenditures in Sudan, as does the IMF.

NDPBs

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what directions overriding a note of dissent by an accounting officer have been given by the boards of non-departmental public bodies within her Department since May 1997. [147067]

Clare Short: There have been no such directions.

DEFENCE

Depleted Uranium

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he intends to publish the commentary clarifying his Department's position on the risks of depleted uranium and certain of his Department's documents recently quoted by the media. [147737]

Mr. Hoon: The Ministry of Defence is today publishing a paper entitled "Depleted Uranium--Documents explaining the Ministry of Defence position on the risks and health hazards". This demonstrates the Ministry of Defence's determination to be open and transparent on the matter. Copies of the paper are being placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his reply of 15 January 2000, Official Report, column 144W, on depleted uranium, what units cleared Devil Dog dragoon range after the discharge of depleted uranium rounds in 1991; and if the personnel involved were warned of hazards deriving from the passage of depleted uranium rounds into compacted sand berms. [147016]

Mr. Spellar: The contemporary (March 1991) official UK file on training areas and ranges contains a detailed note on the condition of Devil Dog dragoon ranges at that time, including that the clearance of the ranges was to be undertaken by the United States Marine Corps.

Although personnel of 49 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Squadron Royal Engineers and 221 EOD Company Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) were deployed to Devil Dog dragoon ranges in January 1991,

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this was for the provision of routine EOD cover during 1(UK) Division training, and not for any subsequent clearance of the ranges (although 221 Company destroyed a number of undetonated munitions on the Ranges in January 1991).

Although the deployment of EOD personnel to these ranges was not solely or specifically connected to the use of DU munitions, 221 Company would have been issued with the 14 January 1991 RAOC Technical Ammunition Bulletin, a copy of which was placed in the Library of the House in February 1998. This provided safety procedures for those involved in clearance of DU from any range areas.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the methods used to contain, clean up and immobilise depleted uranium particles fragmented by the test firing of depleted uranium shells at Eskmeals. [145286]

Mr. Spellar: Depleted Uranium (DU) Charm projectiles were fired into a semi-enclosed butt at VJ Battery on the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) range Eskmeals (formerly part of the Ministry of Defence's Directorate of Proof and Experimental Establishments) during the period between March 1981 and September 1995 when firing ceased. The methods used to contain, clean up and immobilise depleted uranium particles fragmented by the test firing of such shells were in accordance with statutory regulations and were by the best practical means possible following consultation with the Health and Safety Executive. The Environment Agency was also kept informed of these measures throughout the period of the butt's use.

Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many depleted uranium rounds have been discharged at the range in West Freugh, Wigtownshire; in which years since 1971; and at what targets. [145929]

Mr. Spellar: During 1998 and 1990, 100 and 215 rounds of depleted uranium ammunition respectively were fired into Luce Bay at the, now, Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) range, West Freugh. These were part of experimental firings to examine the ricochet effects of ammunitions from Goalkeeper and Phalanx following first water impact. The ammunition was not fired at targets.


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