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Overseas Visits

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many visits abroad have been made by Health Department officials on departmental business (a) since 1 May 1997 and (b) in the last 12 months. [149155]

Ms Stuart: Information is not held in the form requested. However, total expenditure (travel and subsistence) for visits abroad by departmental officials is as follows.

Financial year£
2000-01 (up to 31 January 2001)658,870.19

For the period 1 February 2000-31 January 2001 the figure is £860,848.40.

Cane Hill Site, Coulsdon

Mr. Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has for the redevelopment of the Cane Hill site, Coulsdon. [148153]

Mr. Hutton: Croydon council have rejected a planning application by South London and Maudsley national health service trust to extend the medium secure unit provided at the site by 98 beds.

The trust, in conjunction with other mental health providing trusts in south London, is undertaking feasibility studies to identify whether an alternative site or sites can be identified.

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The future of the Cane Hill site will not be determined until a clear plan for the provision of these services has been agreed.

NHS Expenditure

Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the (a) planned expenditure and (b) actual expenditure was for the NHS in (i) 1997-98, (ii) 1998-99 and (iii) 1999-2000. [148816]

Mr. Denham: The information requested is set out in the table.

£ million

Planned net NHS expenditure(13)Outturn net NHS expenditure

(13) This shows planned expenditure at the start of each financial year

(14) Estimated outturn


Post Office Closures

Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post offices have closed in Scotland in each of the last 10 years. [148161]

Mr. Alan Johnson: I understand from the Post Office that they do not hold historical data on post office closures by country for the last 10 years. Their records are held on a financial year basis. Net post office closures in Scotland for the years for which figures are available are as follows:

EU Postal Monopolies

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answers of 17 January 2001, Official Report, columns 238-39W concerning the postal monopoly limit, what Her Majesty's Government's policy is on Directive Com (2000) 319; when the Directive will be published; what the income of the Royal Mail was in the last year from items weighing (i) less than 50 grammes and (ii) between 50 and 350 grammes; and if primary legislation is needed to amend the public monopoly powers of the Royal Mail. [148558]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The proposal from the European Commission for a draft directive was published on 19 July 2000. The directive will be published in final form if and when the Council and European Parliament agree a final text. The Government support co-ordinated European liberalisation--this will ensure a level playing field for postal operators--including the Post Office and the future Post Office company. The Government believe it is important for such liberalisation to be gradual and controlled and to be consistent with our domestic processes to ensure that the full benefits of liberalisation can be achieved. That is why before taking a detailed decisions in Europe it would be preferable to take account

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of the work of our postal regulator--to ensure that liberalisation proceeds in a way that is consistent with maintaining the universal service at a uniform tariff.

At the Telecommunications Council in December, I said that although I believed that the limits could be reduced from 350 grams to 150 grams in 2003 without adversely impacting on the universal service, I would need the advice of our regulator before going further. In the event, member states were unable to agree on a package and further discussions are expected during the Swedish Presidency.

The income of the Royal Mail in these weight categories is a matter for the Post Office and would be commercially confidential within the meaning of Exemption 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (third party's commercial confidences). A broad indication of the income of Royal Mail by weight category is as follows:

Revenue from items below 50 grams65
Revenue from items between 50 grams and 350 grams30
Revenue from items over 350 grams5

The Postal Services Act 2000 replaces the exclusive privilege of the Post Office to deliver letters under certain weights and postage prices with a licensing regime covering such letters. The Postal Services Commission is responsible for issuing licences to do this and is proposing to grant Consignia plc (the future operating company of the Post Office company (Consignia Holdings plc)) with a licence to do so.

Under the Act, the extent of the letters market subject to licensed access may be modified by an order made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, but only on the recommendation of the Postal Services Commission and after it has been laid in draft before, and approved by, both Houses of Parliament. The relevant provisions of the Postal Services Act 2000 are due to come into force on 26 March 2001.

If changes to the Postal Services Act 2000 are needed to implement obligations under the draft directive when it is adopted, these could be made using the powers contained in section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972.

Departmental Policies (Slough)

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Slough constituency, the effects on Slough of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [146932]

Mr. Alan Johnson: Slough has benefited from a broad range of initiatives that have been implemented since May 1997.

    The Thames Valley Business Link receives funding from the Department to assist businesses at all stages of development. The Business Link also has an independent income stream. The Business Link covers both Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. Initiatives are aimed to reach groups of businesses that have

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    shown a need for a more direct approach. It would not be possible to disaggregate the benefit for Slough and the figures shown are for the whole region covered by the Business Link.

    The Business Links services are widely marketed and include the following initiatives.

DTI Funding for Business Link

Financial Year£000

EU Directive on Consultation and Information

Mr. Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the proposed timetable is for (a) discussions between the TUC, the CBI and the Government on the incorporation into UK law of the EU directive on Consultation and Information and (b) for bringing necessary legislation before the House; and if he will make a statement. [148125]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The proposed EU directive establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Community has not been adopted by the Council of Ministers. Therefore there is no timetable for its implementation in the UK.

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