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Manufacturing (South-West)

21. Mrs. Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the state of manufacturing in the south-west. [149023]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The performance of manufacturing industry in the south-west region has most recently been assessed by the CBI in its business strategies regional trends survey, dated November 2000.

The Government office for the south-west is in regular contact with local and regional partners about business matters in the region.

Centres of Expertise

22. Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to encourage business collaboration and to develop centres of expertise. [149024]

Ms Hewitt: In the White Paper "Opportunity for All in a World of Change", published earlier this week, the Department demonstrated its continuing commitment to supporting collaborative activity and centres of expertise.

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We announced support valued at £30 million over the next three years for five new regionally based university innovation centres, including one at the university of Warwick focusing on business-to-business e-commerce.

We also announced the establishment of a new manufacturing advisory service in partnership with the regional development agencies, consisting of regional centres of manufacturing excellence and a supporting national network, to provide practical advice on manufacturing issues.

Hinduja Brothers

23. Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the contacts he has had with members of the Hinduja family. [149026]

Mr. Byers: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave to the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) on 2 February 2001, Official Report, column 336W.

Energy Market Liberalisation

24. Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures he is taking to liberalise the energy market at (a) UK and (b) EU level. [149027]

Mr. Hain: UK electricity and gas markets are already liberalised. In addition, my Department is working closely with the regulator to reform the wholesale electricity market in England and Wales by replacing the electricity pool with more competitive trading arrangements. The target implementation date for the new electricity arrangements is 27 March.

In Europe, the Commission will soon be proposing a new directive to accelerate the liberalisation of European electricity and gas markets. The UK Government will be urging a rapid move to a properly open and competitive electricity and gas market in Europe.

National Minimum Wage

26. Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what abatement is available in the national minimum wage to those employers who provide board and lodging. [149030]

Mr. Alan Johnson: Following the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission, there is no offset allowed for the provision of board when calculating whether the national minimum wage has been paid. There is a limited offset of up to £19.95 a week allowed against the national minimum wage to recognise the benefit of the provision of accommodation. I have asked the commission, as part of the terms of reference for its third report, to consider whether there is a case for making any change to the maximum accommodation offset. It is due to report its findings by July.

Mr. Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many enforcement notices have been issued to employers to help enforce the national minimum wage. [150447]

Mr. Alan Johnson: Since the national minimum wage was introduced on 1 April 1999, the Inland Revenue, who enforce the minimum wage on behalf of the DTI, have issued 328 enforcement notices against employers.

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Mr. Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many enforcement officers, region by region, are employed to police employers who pay less than the national minimum wage. [150446]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The allocation of resources to enforce the national minimum wage is agreed between the DTI and the Inland Revenue, and is covered by a service level agreement between the two Departments. There are presently 77 enforcement officers based in 14 teams across the United Kingdom. In addition there are a further 10 staff at the national minimum wage helpline and seven at the central information unit, both based in Longbenton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The number of enforcement officers can be broken down into the following Inland Revenue regions:

Inland Revenue RegionsNumber
East Region6
London Region13
Northern Ireland5
North Region7
North West Region7
Scotland8
South East Region10
South West Region5
South Yorkshire Region6
Wales and Midlands10

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many workers have benefited from the introduction of the national minimum wage in the Tooting parliamentary constituency; [144576]

Mr. Andrew Smith: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Tom Cox, dated 15 February 2001:




Nuclear Power

27. Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what decline his Department forecasts in nuclear power output over the next 20 years as a result of planned nuclear power station closures. [149032]

Mr. Hain: The DTI has recently published UK energy projections for the period up until 2020 1 . The baseline projections embody a rundown in nuclear output and

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capacity between 2000 and 2020 as existing stations reach the end of their lives. On an assumption of no new nuclear build, the projections are that by 2020 nuclear capacity will have fallen to 4GW and the annual electricity generated by the nuclear sector will have fallen to 27TWh. These translate into falls from current levels of 69 per cent. and 66 per cent. respectively.

There is, of course, great uncertainty about the lifetimes of existing plant and hence future output levels. Plant lives will depend on the economics of continued production, which in turn will depend on the actions required of their owners to ensure safe operation.


Steel Industry

28. Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will made a statement on the latest position in talks between the Government and owners of steel production companies. [149033]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The Government have had discussions with Corus on a wide range of issues and have assured the company of the Government's continuing support for the steel industry. In the period before Corus' recent announcement of 6,050 job cuts in the UK, the question of a package of support measures from the Government was raised with Corus, but the company made it clear that this would not change its decisions. The Government will continue to work with Corus and all parts of the steel industry to ensure the future competitiveness of the sector.

29. Ms Dari Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to maintain and enhance steel production in Britain. [149034]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The steel industry is a vital part of UK manufacturing and the Government will continue to work closely with all parts of the industry to ensure its future competitiveness. The Government stand ready to work alongside Corus, the trade unions and the National Assembly for Wales to identify a way forward that builds on the strengths of the industry and secures a long-term future for it in the UK.

31. Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with Corus plc about Government support for the steel industry. [149036]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The Government continue to talk to steel companies about a wide range of issues. Specifically in relation to Corus, the largest UK steel production company, the Government are continuing to press the company to engage in constructive dialogue with the trade unions and others affected by the 1 February announcement of 6,050 job cuts in the UK.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his oral statement of 1 February 2001, Official Report, column 458, on the steel industry, what powers he will use to require Corus to pay the costs of the clean-up of the sites affected by its decision to close plants. [149760]

Mr. Meacher: I have been asked to reply.

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Where any land, including sites where an industry has closed, poses unacceptable risks to humans or the environment in the light of the current use of the site, local authorities and the Environment Agency (or, in Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency) have duties under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to enforce remediation. Those who have caused or knowingly permitted the pollution are liable to carry out that remediation. Ministers have only appellate powers. In Wales, the National Assembly exercises these ministerial powers.

When this new regime came into force, I wrote to top UK-registered companies asking about their plans to deal with contamination for which they are responsible, and was told by the chairman of Corus that they are committed to the economic redevelopment of brownfield sites.

We therefore look forward to learning of Corus' proposals for ensuring that the sites affected by any closures are appropriately remediated and brought rapidly back into beneficial economic use and do not become derelict.

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will meet the Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs to discuss the restructuring of Corus. [150207]

Mr. Byers: I would be happy to meet the Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations he has received from Corus about the long-term future of steel production at the plants in Wales; and if he will make a statement. [150232]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 13 February 2001]: I have had discussions with senior representatives of Corus on a number of occasions when we have discussed, among other issues, the long-term future of steel production at plants in Wales, Scotland and England.

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will provide a breakdown by region of the job losses in the steel industry announced by Corus on 1 February; and if he will make a statement. [150229]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 13 February 2001]: Following Corus's announcements about its planned restructuring of the company, I made a full statement to the House on 1 February 2001.

A breakdown of job losses by business unit, indicating the location affected, based on information supplied by Corus is as follows.

Plant/locationNumber of job losses
Corus Strip, Llanwern, Wales1,540
Corus Colours, Shotton,319
Bryngwn, Wales127
Corus Strip, Lackenby, Teesside234
Corus Construction and Industrial Teesside648
Scunthorpe436
Dalzell, Scotland2
Engineering Steels Rotherham87
Stocksbridge45
West Midlands and others(41)258
Construction and Industrial and Corus Engineering Steels Head Office/shared services (Teesside, Scunthorpe and Rotherham)400
Stockholding (various locations)(41)292
Rail, Workington27
Special Profiles, Workington46
Tubes Corby141
Hartlepool/Stockton142
West Midlands15
Packaging Plus, Ebbw Vale780
European Electrical Steels(42)276
Special Strip Products Rotherham, Newport, West Midlands(42)35
Corporate Centre/Central Functions (various locations)(42)200

(41) Split across locations.

(42) Split across locations, breakdown not known


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