Previous Section Index Home Page


Paid Holiday (Wansbeck)

Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many workers in Wansbeck have gained an entitlement to four weeks paid holiday. [153139]

Mr. Alan Johnson: There are no data currently available at constituency level concerning the number of workers who have gained an entitlement to four weeks paid holiday. However, 3.1 million workers have benefited nationally from the introduction of the entitlement to paid leave.

Post Offices

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations he has made to Post Office Counters Ltd. about the impact of the network re-invention programme on the number and location of post offices. [152834]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 9 March 2001]: The size of the post office network and precise location of post offices is an operational matter for the Post Office, taking account of the formal requirement to maintain the rural network and to prevent any avoidable closures of rural offices and of the Postal Services Commission's advice on accessibility of public post offices.

13 Mar 2001 : Column: 547W

Universal Banking Services

Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what calculation has been made of the cost of the introduction of a magnetic card for the payment of benefits and pensions from sub-post offices. [153604R]

Mr. Alan Johnson: It is too early to say what the setting up and running costs of the Post Office Card Account element of Universal Banking Services will be.

Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what payment per transaction will be made to sub-post offices for payments of benefit and pensions by a magnetic card. [153599R]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The development of Universal Banking Services are at an early stage (they are not due to come on stream until 2003). Payment arrangements will be subject detailed to contractual negotiations between the Government and the Post Office.

Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his estimate is of the reduction of fraud through the introduction of a magnetic card for the payment of benefits and pensions. [153602R]

Mr. Alan Johnson: By making payments directly into bank accounts, the Government expect to achieve savings of around £100 million in current Instrument of Payment fraud.

Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what incentives the Government will give to individuals to encourage the utilisation of Universal Banking Services by benefit and pension recipients; and what is their cost. [153600R]

Mr. Alan Johnson: It is the Government's intention to identify and deploy effective incentives to encourage the utilisation of Universal Banking Services by benefit and pension recipients. The concept of Universal Banking Services are at an early stage (they are not due to come on stream until 2003) and a lot of detailed work will be necessary before decisions can be taken on what form that incentives structure might take.

Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on progress in the discussions with the banking sector on the creation of the Universal Banking Services. [153601R]

Mr. Alan Johnson: Discussions with the banks are at an advanced stage. I hope that they will be resolved shortly.

Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his Department's estimate is of the annual running cost of the Universal Banking Services and the percentage division of this cost between Government and the banking sector. [153603R]

Mr. Alan Johnson: It is too early to say what the setting up and running costs of the Post Office Card Account element of Universal Banking Services will be; or what might be the percentage division of costs between the Government and the banking sector. The banks have agreed in principle to make a contribution but the precise figures are subject to commercial negotiations which we expect to be resolved shortly.

13 Mar 2001 : Column: 548W

Bank Notes

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he took to ensure that all post offices were informed of the date when old £20 notes ceased to be legal tender; and what publicity material was supplied to them. [152863]

Mr. Alan Johnson: This is an operational matter for the Post Office. I understand that the Post Office informed post office outlets of the date when old £20 notes ceased to be legal tender principally by issuing articles in a monthly internal publication sent to all front-line staff. The first of these articles appeared at the end of August 2000. In addition, a national helpline is available to front-line staff should they require further assistance.

Youth Parliament

Mr. Rowe: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will meet members of the UK Youth Parliament to discuss their manifesto proposals in relation to the minimum wage and other issues. [152964]

Mr. Alan Johnson: I will be pleased to meet members of the UK Youth Parliament provided, of course, that a mutually convenient date can be found.

Miners

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what decision he has made in respect of the pension entitlement of ex-miners dismissed during the 1984-85 miners' strike; and if he will make a statement. [153236]

Mr. Hain: My Department issued a consultative document in May last year which elicited some starkly conflicting views, and highlighted a range of difficult moral, legal and equity questions. As a result of the complexity of the issues raised it is taking time to reach a decision on the way forward. None the less, the Government wish to see a just outcome to resolve this long standing matter. Having spoken to those involved, I do recognise the strong feelings there are about an early resolution.

Mr. Alan W. Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many medical assessment procedures were conducted on average each week in respect of the miners' compensation claims for chest diseases for (a) January to March 2000, (b) April to June 2000, (c) July to September 2000 and (d) October to December 2000 and the individual weekly totals from 1 January to date. [153379]

Mr. Hain: A breakdown of the number of medical assessments is available only from June 2000 onwards.

Between January and June 2000, Healthcall, the company contracted to undertake the Medical Assessment Process, completed a total of 1,163 MAP assessments.

The average weekly number of MAPs between July and September 2000 is 276. Between October and December 2000 (excluding the two-week Christmas holiday period), an average of 371 MAPs were undertaken.

13 Mar 2001 : Column: 549W

The individual weekly totals from 1 January 2001 to date are as follows:

Week endingNumber of MAPs
7 January340
14 January497
21 January455
28 January570
4 February417
11 February655
18 February559
25 February515
4 March645

The total number of MAPs undertaken to date is 13,218.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Arms Sales (Morocco)

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if his Department followed the European Code of Conduct on arms sales, Criterion 4, when granting the export licence for artillery spare parts to Morocco. [149615]

Mr. Wilson: The export licence application for artillery spare parts to Morocco and the subsequent appeal were judged against the EU Code of Conduct, as are all export licence applications considered by this Department. It is of course the Department of Trade and Industry which co-ordinates the export licence application process and actually grants licences.

"Your Britain, Your Europe"

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 5 March 2001, Official Report, column 96W, what date has been set for a roadshow visit; what political parties he will meet; what advice he has sought and received on marketing the roadshow among (a) young people and (b) people whose nationality is not British; in what publications he will advertise; what the budget breakdown is for this initiative; and if he will ensure the use of flags and emblems that underline the inclusive nature of the European message. [153241]

Mr. Vaz: Due to diary pressures we have now had to cancel this visit.

Kashmir

Ms Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last held discussions with the US Government on Kashmir. [153159]

Mr. Wilson: Ministers and officials regularly discuss Kashmir and other regional issues with their US counterparts.

Ms Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last held discussions with the (a) Pakistan and (b) Indian Governments regarding (i) human rights violations in and (ii) self-determination for the people of Kashmir; and what plans he has for further discussions. [153158]

13 Mar 2001 : Column: 550W

Mr. Wilson: The Foreign Secretary most recently met his Indian counterpart, Jaswant Singh, in London in November. They discussed a range of issues, including Kashmir and human rights. Officials in our High Commission in Islamabad also regularly discuss Kashmir with the Pakistani Government. We will continue to urge both Governments to build on the recent positive developments in Kashmir and return to dialogue to find a solution to this issue. We also believe any solution must involve, and reflect the view of, the people of Kashmir.

Ms Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further action he intends to take regarding the provision of independent human rights observers in Kashmir. [153161]

Mr. Wilson: FCO Ministers have consistently urged the Indian Government to allow access to Kashmir for human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, and for UN human rights Rapporteurs. We will continue to impress upon them the benefits of transparency and importance of investigating abuses.


Next Section Index Home Page