Previous Section Index Home Page


Ministerial Visits

Sir Brian Mawhinney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the Ministers in his Department who visited any of the constituencies which are in the Peterborough unitary authority area between 1 January 2000 and 14 February 2001, indicating in each case (a) the date of the visit, (b) the constituencies included in the visit and (c) if the local hon. Member met the Minister. [151027]

Mr. Straw [holding answer 26 February 2001]: The list of Ministers within my Department who have visited the Peterborough unitary authority area within the specified period above are as follows:

AreaDateMinister
Huntingdon Life Sciences, Cambridgeshire8 June 2000 Mike O'Brien
Newmarket, Cambridgeshire19 April 2000Mike O'Brien

The Minister did not meet the local MP on these visits.

Proceeds of Crime Bill

Mr. Hope: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will publish the draft Proceeds of Crime Bill. [152128]

Mr. Straw: I have today published a Command Paper, CM 5066, entitled "Proceeds of Crime Bill: Publication of Draft Clauses." Copies have been placed in the Library. It is also available on the Home Office website, www.homeoffice.gov.uk.

The draft clauses we are publishing provide for the establishment of an asset recovery agency; the introduction of civil recovery; the application of taxation powers to suspected criminal assets; the creation of new specific powers for the tracing and investigation of criminal assets; the restraint of assets of suspected persons during a criminal investigation instead of only at the point of charge; improvements in the United Kingdom's ability to assist foreign jurisdictions; and the reform and updating of confiscation procedures and money laundering offences. The Bill, the work on which has been undertaken on a collaborative basis, will introduce equivalent measures in Scotland and Northern Ireland, adjusted for the legal systems of those jurisdictions.

The Government will take account of the responses to the Command Paper before finalising the Bill for introduction. We are asking to receive replies before the end of May.

Immigration and Asylum

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) operators and (b) hirers of self-drive vehicles have been liable for penalties under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 Carriers Liability (Clandestine Entrants and Sale of Transporter) Regulations 2000 attributable to the actions of their clients; and if he will make a statement. [151797]

Mrs. Roche: The civil penalty provisions of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 enable the imposition of a penalty on those who, through negligence or

5 Mar 2001 : Column: 38W

otherwise, allow their vehicles to be used by persons seeking to enter the United Kingdom clandestinely. Owners, hirers and drivers of vehicles found to have carried clandestine entrants are jointly and severally liable to a penalty of £2,000 for each clandestine entrant carried.

Since 3 April, when the provisions were implemented, and as at 28 February 2001, a total of 815 civil penalties have been imposed on persons found to have carried between them 4,514 clandestine entrants. Eighteen of the penalties have been imposed on the owners, hirers and drivers of self-drive vehicles in respect of a total of 193 clandestine entrants carried.

A code of practice, issued in accordance with the legislation, sets out the practical measures that should be taken by those seeking to prevent unauthorised entry into their vehicles, and provides a basis for a defence against a penalty should clandestine entrance nevertheless be found. Vehicle owners who believe they are unable to fulfil the requirements of the code of practice are advised to seek ways to offset any financial liability to which they may be exposed.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Corus

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many apprentices and other trainees have been affected by the Corus closures announced on 1 February; and what action he is taking to secure continuity in their training programmes. [148986]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 7 February 2001]: Corus informs me that where there have been major job reductions/closures in the past, the company has been able, with very few exceptions, to get all trainees through to the end of their apprenticeships. The company's intention is to ensure that all current trainees have the opportunity of completing their training. This may require some to relocate.

The announcement on 1 February related to several plants in England and Wales. The company has provided me with the following information about the number of apprentices/trainees at the plants as follows:

Number
Ebbw Vale48 apprentices
Scunthorpe and TeessideNo impact on trainees as they are employed directly by local colleges
Llanwern and Port Talbot130 apprentices
Shotton30 apprentices
Rotherham17 apprentices/trainees

Corus has a good track record on training and we will encourage it to maintain this record.

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will list the occasions on which he met the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales to discuss the job losses at Corus in Wales, prior to the announcement on 1 February; and if he will make a statement; [150253]

5 Mar 2001 : Column: 39W

Mr. Byers [holding answer 13 February 2001]: I have maintained a regular dialogue with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales and the Economic Development Secretary of the National Assembly for Wales in recent months about a range of issues. Since 5 December, when Corus announced its intention to restructure, I have met them on the following occasions to discuss the matter:

DateNames
15 DecemberPaul Murphy and Rhodri Morgan
17 JanuaryPaul Murphy, Rhodri Morgan and Mike German
31 JanuaryPaul Murphy and Rhodri Morgan
1 FebruaryPaul Murphy
5 FebruaryPaul Murphy
6 FebruaryPaul Murphy
8 FebruaryPaul Murphy
13 FebruaryPaul Murphy
26 FebruaryPaul Murphy, Rhodri Morgan and Mike German

Project Grants (London Boroughs)

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list each category of grants given to projects in (a) Westminster and (b) the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea in (i) 1997-98, (ii) 1998-99, (iii) 1999-2000 and (iv) 2000-01. [148598]

Mr. Caborn: Westminster and the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea have benefited from a range of DTI initiatives since 1997 to support innovation and promote business development.

Direct business advice and support to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) has been provided by the DTI through core programmes and Business Links. While the Department does not collect detailed statistical information on a borough basis, Business Links have handled 12,758 requests for advice, information and support from SMEs in Westminster and 4,158 requests from SMEs in the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea since 1997. During the same period grants totalling over £533,000 and £128,000 have been awarded to SMEs in Westminster and the royal borough respectively, for innovation and technology projects under the Smart scheme.

All wards in both boroughs are eligible for the enterprise grant scheme, which was introduced in 2000.

Universal Banking Services

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (Miss Smith) of 12 February 2001, Official Report, column 20W, if

5 Mar 2001 : Column: 40W

universal banking services will be registered as a bank or be subject to prudential regulation; if the Post Office card account will permit (a) phased withdrawals of benefits due and (b) the setting up of direct debits to councils and public utilities; and if the card account and universal banking services will have a single payment system manager. [150973]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 26 February 2001]: There is a lot of detailed work to be done to implement the concept of universal banking services between now and 2003 when it is due to come on stream. The project is at too early a stage in its development to be prescriptive about issues such as whether the Post Office will need to register as a bank; or whether there will be a single payment systems manager.

The intention is that the Post Office card account will permit phased withdrawal of benefits. With regard to the setting up of direct debits, users of the basic bank account element of universal banking services will be able to benefit from direct debit facilities, which will mean that gas and electricity bills are reduced. It is also the intention of the Post Office to provide a bill payment service alongside the card account, with the aim that such payments will attract discounts in a similar way to those offered to direct debit customers. Development of this is at an early stage.


Next Section Index Home Page