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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 9 February 2001


Review Body on Senior Salaries

Mr. Miller: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the report and recommendations of the Review Body on Senior Salaries. [150123]

The Prime Minister: The 2001 report of the Review Body on Senior Salaries, which makes recommendations about the pay of the senior civil service, senior military personnel and the judiciary, together with the annual uprating of parliamentary salaries, is being published today. Copies are in the Vote Office and the Library of the House. I am grateful to the chairman and the members of the review body for their work.

The main recommendations of the review body are:

The Government have decided to accept these recommendations. Their cost will be met within existing departmental expenditure limits.

Pay increases for Members of Parliament and Ministers are linked automatically to the increase in pay bands for the senior civil service. Their pay entitlement will therefore increase from 1 April 2001 by 3 per cent.


Consumer Protection

Mr. Cash: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what were the levels of spending on consumer protection per head of population in (a) Staffordshire and (b) each other county of England (i) in the current year and (ii) in each of the last three years, distinguishing in each case the element represented by Standard Spending Assessment. [148294]

Dr. Howells: The accompanying table of statistics sets out spending per head of population on consumer protection in (a) Staffordshire and (b) in each other county of England (i) in the current year and (ii) in each of the last three years. A copy of the statistics has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

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It is not possible to distinguish the element represented by the Standard Spending Assessment, as that does not make separate provision for consumer protection.

Press Releases

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many press releases were issued by his Department in the financial years (a) 1996-97, (b) 1997-98, (c) 1998-99 and (d) 1999-2000; how many have been issued in the current financial year; and what his estimate is of the total number for the current financial year. [149244]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 8 February 2001]: The number of press release issued in each financial year is:

Postal Services Commission

Mr. Pound: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he will lay the Government's proposed social and environmental guidance to the Postal Services Commission; and if he will make a statement. [150127]

Mr. Alan Johnson: Yesterday I laid in the Library of each House the draft social and environmental guidance which the Secretary of State proposes to issue to the Postal Services Commission in accordance with section 43 of the Postal Services Act 2000. A consultation on the draft guidance was carried out in accordance with section 43(3) of the Act. The consultation closed on 31 January and six responses were received for which the Government are grateful. They contained a number of useful suggestions which have been taken into account in refining the draft guidance.

The process of giving statutory social and environmental guidance has been developed to provide a means of ensuring that regulators take due account of the Government's social and environmental policies in carrying out their statutory functions. Regulators have a statutory duty to have regard to the guidance.

Alkaline Hydrolysis

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what evidence he has collated on the export potential of the technology of alkaline hydrolysis at elevated temperature for the inactivation of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies; and what action he is taking to assist British firms with the licence to manufacture the required machinery. [147864]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 30 January 2001]: I refer my hon. Friend to the answers given him by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on 15 January 2001, Official Report, column 57W. In addition, I understand that the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Department of Health are currently funding research to assess the efficacy of the technology in inactivating infectious TSE agents. Plainly, that is a crucial factor to be addressed before the export potential can be considered.

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Pension Funds

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with other Departments on the distribution of pension funds when stock market listed companies are involved in takeovers; and if he will make a statement. [148980]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 6 February 2001]: None. My Department considers takeovers in line with its competition policy and under the relevant European and UK statutory procedures. Mergers of occupational pension schemes and the distribution of pension funds must take place in accordance with the Pension Act 1995 and Inland Revenue regulations. It is for the trustees of a pension scheme to ensure that changes are carried out in accordance with legislation and do not disadvantage members. Scheme members have a right of challenge to the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority if they consider statutory criteria have not been followed.


Public Library Standards

Ms Coffey: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how he proposes to take forward his consultation about draft public library standards. [148158]

Mr. Chris Smith: I am today publishing public library standards. They will come into effect from 1 April 2001, and my Department will monitor and assess performance against them through the annual library planning process. There will be a three-year period for compliance and my officials will be happy to discuss the practicalities with individual library authorities. The draft standards, on which I consulted last year, have been refashioned to reflect better on library service outcomes and the requirements of best value, rather than simple inputs. Within the context of best value, they are resource neutral. I believe that library standards, together with best value provisions, will be a powerful combination to help authorities to drive up library performance. Copies of the library standards, and of the analysis of responses to the consultation exercise which I am also publishing today, are being placed in the Libraries of both Houses. In addition, both documents can be accessed via the Department's website: www.culture.gov.uk.

Wembley Stadium

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement on the future of the Wembley stadium project. [149093]

Kate Hoey: Wembley National Stadium Ltd. (WNSL) is continuing with its efforts to create a world-class stadium for football and Rugby league at Wembley. WNSL made a statement on 18 January ruling out the possibility of athletics returning to Wembley for the 2005 IAAF world athletics championships.

Picketts Lock

Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he intends to publish the minutes of his meeting held on 16 January about Picketts Lock with the Lee Valley Forum. [148751]

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Kate Hoey [holding answer 5 February 2001]: The minutes of the Lee Valley Forum meeting which took place on 16 January have been circulated to forum members for comment. I will place a copy of the minutes in the Library, together with a copy of the minutes of the three previous meetings of the Lee Valley Forum, as soon as comments have been received.

School Sports

Miss Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps he is taking to encourage sport in schools. [148967]

Kate Hoey: Sport in schools was one of the key themes of our strategy "A Sporting Future for All", which the Government published last year. We now have a number of programmes in place to encourage high quality physical education and sport in schools. Through the school sport co-ordinator programme, there will be a network of 1,000 co-ordinators in secondary schools improving PE and sporting opportunities by 2004. Some £580 million will be invested from the new opportunities fund for sport in and around schools. We work closely with DfEE on these and other initiatives to develop better physical education and sport in schools and will shortly begin consulting on how to deliver an entitlement for school sport which would mean that pupils would have access to two hours of high quality sport or PE each week during and after school.

Mr. Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will publish "A Sporting Future for All-Action Plan" submitted to him by the implementation group. [148706]

Kate Hoey [holding answer 7 February 2001]: We are presently considering the recommendations contained within the action plan and will make the plan available on the Department's website shortly.

Mr. Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when the School Sports Alliance, established to oversee the new opportunities fund project for sports and arts provision in schools, will publish its conclusions about how funding will be allocated. [148707]

Kate Hoey [holding answer 7 February 2001]: The School Sports Alliance will announce agreed priorities for the new opportunities fund's opportunities for young people--PE and sport in schools scheme before October, when we expect the money to come on stream.

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