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BNFL

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with BNFL in respect of the implementation of the company's new management of change arrangements. [154200]

Mr. Hain: I met senior managers of BNFL on Tuesday 13 March, but managing change within BNFL is a matter for the company, subject to the satisfaction of the nuclear safety regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

British Coal Canteen Workers

(Equal Value Claims)

Ms Squire: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the progress

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towards a settlement between British Coal and its canteen workers on equal value claims. [153613]

Mr. Hain [holding answer 19 March 2001]: Negotiations between the legal representatives of British Coal and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have re-opened. On 7 March, British Coal made a new and significantly improved offer, but unfortunately there has, as yet, been no response from the NUM side.

I very much hope the NUM will give the offer the serious consideration which it merits, as I am anxious that a way can be found to allow payments to be made to the claimants as quickly as possible.

Departmental Policies (Sutton and Cheam)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will set out, including statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Sutton and Cheam constituency, the effects on Sutton and Cheam of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [154417]

Mr. Caborn: The parliamentary constituency of Sutton and Cheam has benefited from a range of initiatives since May 1997. Direct business advice and support to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) has been provided by the DTI through core programmes and the Business Links. While my Department does not collect detailed statistical information on a constituency basis, over 2,360 requests for advice, information and support from SMEs in Sutton and Cheam have been handled by the Business Links since May 1997.

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Departmental Policies (Truro and St. Austell)

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will set out, including statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Truro and St. Austell constituency, the effects on Truro and St. Austell of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [154530]

Mr. Caborn: The Department has provided the following support for businesses in Truro and St. Austell constituency since May 1997.

Regional Selective Assistance (RSA)

RSA is a capital investment grant linked to the creation or safeguarding of jobs in designated areas of need (the Assisted Areas). Two RSA grant offers totalling £0.675 million have been made to businesses in the Truro and St. Austell constituency, to support projects with a total capital expenditure of £7.3 million, and to create and safeguard a total of 163 jobs. The whole of the constituency is included in the new Assisted Areas map effective from July 2000; only parts of the constituency were included in the previous map.

Enterprise Grants

The Enterprise Grants scheme is a simplified scheme that was introduced in April 2000 to help small firms undertake fixed capital investment projects. Two offers totalling £0.024 million have been made to firms in the Truro and St. Austell constituency.

Smart

Smart awards are designed to help small firms with the introduction of new products and processes. Two Smart awards totalling £0.07 million have been made to firms in the Truro and St. Austell constituency.

Business Link

PROSPER Business Link has provided services to small businesses in the Truro and St. Austell constituency since 1997. These include general and specialised advice to help businesses grow, export development counselling, ICT advice, and a full range of specialist information. From April 2001 these services will be provided by the Small Business Service operating through a franchise awarded to a PROSPER led partnership. This new service will be more customer focused ensuring that services are driven by local need.

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Child Protection

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions her Department has had with the Council of Europe to develop joint policies for the welfare and protection of children. [154449]

Clare Short: My Department has not had any recent discussions with the Council of Europe on child protection. However, children are central to DFID's programmes for the eradication of poverty.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what checks her Department makes on goods imported into the United Kingdom to ensure that they are not made by child labour; and if she will make a statement. [154457]

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Clare Short: My Department is committed to the reduction of child labour with special emphasis on the worst forms. We do not make checks on goods imported into the UK but are supporting the efforts of Governments, non-governmental organisations, and international bodies such as the International Labour Organisation to end exploitative child labour in developing countries in both domestic and export sectors.

We are also providing assistance to business, through, for example, the Ethical Trading Initiative and the Resource Centre for the Social Dimensions of Business Practice, for the elimination of child labour and other exploitative labour practices, including in supply chains. We support the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development guidelines for multinational enterprises.

In November 1999 we published a report on child labour--"Helping not Hurting Children"--which outlines the dangers for children of calls for boycotts and trade sanctions. A copy will be sent to my hon. Friend.

General Agreement on Trade in Services

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement about the impact of the proposed General Agreement on Trade in Services on basic services in developing countries. [154302]

Clare Short: Developing and developed country governments choose both the sectors in which and the extent to which they liberalise services under the General Agreement on Trade in Services. Services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority--that is, public services like health and education services--are explicitly excluded from the GATS (although private services are covered by the GATS).

Further liberalisation of private services under GATS offers developing countries potential benefits in a number of different sectors. Increased competition in basic services such as banking, transport and telecommunications would provide more efficient and effective infrastructure in developing countries, which is vital if they are to achieve the economic growth they need to reduce poverty.

Colombia

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations she has made to the US Government concerning the use of herbicide spraying as part of the drug-crop eradication campaign, Plan Colombia. [153933]

Mr. Battle: I have been asked to reply.

The FCO and other Departments maintain a wide-ranging and regular dialogue on drugs issues with the US Government and other key international partners. This dialogue includes discussion of drug crop eradication methods in Colombia and in other drug producing countries.

We have indicated our support for the principle of independent international monitoring of the aerial fumigation of large-scale illicit drug cultivation in Colombia.

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Strategy Unit

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when her corporate strategy unit for aid policy department was established; which of its reports are placed in the public domain; how many departmental or non-departmental special advisers participate in its work; how many regular (a) non- departmental and (b) departmental staff participate in its work; and how many of these work for the unit on a full-time basis. [150370]

Clare Short: A strategy unit was established in DFID's Policy Department in 1998. The unit itself publishes no reports, but it played a co-ordinating role in the production by DFID of a set of nine publicly available strategies for achieving the International Development Targets. Special advisers do not participate in the work of the unit. It contains two full-time and one part-time regular departmental staff.

SOLICITOR-GENERAL

Departmental Policies (Manchester, Gorton)

Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the constituency, the effects on the Manchester, Gorton constituency of his Department's policies and actions since 6 November 2000. [154500]

The Solicitor-General: I refer my right hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 6 November 2000, Official Report, column 1W.

On 13 November 2000, the City of Manchester branch of the Crown Prosecution Service underwent the reorganisation I referred to in my previous answer. In line with the Glidewell proposals, the branch now has Trial Units and Criminal Justice Units covering the North and South Manchester Policy Divisions. At the present time and for the foreseeable future, it is unlikely that the Crown Prosecution Service will be able to co-locate with the police at Elizabeth Slinger Road Police Station.

In partnership with other agencies, the Crown Prosecution Service has made a concerted effort to reduce the length of time, between arrest and sentence, that persistent young offenders remain within the criminal justice system. On 25 November 2000, there were 201 persistent young offender cases currently before Manchester Youth Court. On 14 March 2001, that figure had been reduced to 137. Similarly, the average time from arrest for all current cases has shown a reduction from 98 days to 89 days over the same period. All these changes illustrate the Government's successful period. All these changes illustrate the Government's successful policy of speeding up the work of the criminal justice system.

On 15 January 2001, section 51 Crime and Disorder Act 1988 came into force. One of the first cases dealt with by the City of Manchester branch involved the arrest of four defendants under Operation Auction 1. This, as my right hon. Friend knows, is a police operation set up to combat a high level of street robberies in Gorton. The four defendants made their first appearance before Manchester City Magistrates Court on 16 January 2001. On 24 January 2001 they appeared before the Crown

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Court. One of the defendants, Stuart Smith, indicated immediately that he intended to plead guilty to assault with intent to rob. He entered his guilty plea on 8 February 2001 and was sentenced to a Detention and Training Order for two years. This illustrates the potential effectiveness in speeding up serious cases. Slightly over three weeks from the date of his first court appearance, the defendant received a substantial custodial sentence. Previously the case was unlikely to have been finalised within three months. Committal proceedings would have taken approximately eight weeks and a further four weeks would have elapsed between committal and a plea and directions hearing at the Crown Court.

Actions and policies of the Treasury Solicitor's Department and the Serious Fraud Office affect my right hon. Friend's constituency only indirectly.


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