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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 2 April 2001

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the meetings and conferences organised by his Department and agencies of his Department which have been (a) cancelled and (b) postponed owing to foot and mouth disease; and if he will make a statement. [155365]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 23 March 2001]: There have been a very small number of reported occasions of which I am aware where meetings or conferences organised by my Department have had to be either cancelled or postponed owing to foot and mouth disease.

They are:






Ilisu Dam

Mr. Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what date he received the environmental impact assessment relating to the Ilisu Dam; what assessment he has made of the project; and if he will place a copy of the assessment in the Library. [156282]

Mr. Caborn: My officials at ECGD received a copy of the original Environmental Impact Assessment Report in August 1998. This report was reviewed by Environmental Resources Management in July 1999, and copies of that review are in the Library of the House. We are currently awaiting the final version of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report. We expect that a presentation on the Environmental Impact Assessment Report will be made to the export credit agencies shortly and that after this presentation the Environmental Impact Assessment Report will be made publicly available. As we are not the owners of the reports we cannot be more specific about timing.

Mercedes-Benz

Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will refer the decision by Daimler

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Chrysler UK to serve termination notices to all Mercedes-Benz dealers in the UK to the Director General of Fair Trading. [156406]

Dr. Howells: Change to the sales structure for Mercedes-Benz vehicles is a commercial decision for Daimler Chrysler UK.

The European Block Exemption on vehicle distribution outlines the procedures which suppliers must follow when terminating dealerships.

Under UK competition legislation, it is for the Director General of Fair Trading to decide whether any matter merits investigation.

Mobility Products

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what evidence he has collated on the use of pressurised sales methods in relation to the sale of mobility products for elderly people. [155879]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 28 March 2001]: My Department holds no recent evidence on this subject. The Government share concerns about the targeting of vulnerable consumers with particular sales and marketing techniques and officials in my Department have recently agreed to participate in research on the subject commissioned by Age Concern.

Postwatch

Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the role, powers and funding of Postwatch. [156275]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 30 March 2001]: The Consumer Council for Postal Services (or "Postwatch" as it calls itself) has been established to promote the interests of users of postal services within the framework now created by the Postal Services Act 2000. It is intended that the Council should have a central role in the new regulatory framework, monitoring service standards and acting as a focus for consumer issues and complaints.

The Act requires that the Council is consulted on key decisions including variations in the services for which licences are required, the granting and modification of licences, and the enforcement of licence conditions. The Act also requires the Council to represent (particularly to the Government, the Postal Services Commission, and licensed postal operators) the views of users, and to provide advice and information to consumers on postal matters. It is expected that the Council will seek to ensure licensed operators have effective complaints handling procedures and compensation and redress systems, and will investigate complaints which have not been satisfactorily handled by licensed postal operators. It will also monitor service quality against standards set by the Postal Services Commission and, with the Postal Services Commission ("Postcomm"), monitor and advise on the Post Office Counters network.

In accordance with a direction given under section 39 of the Act, the costs of the Council are to be recovered from licensees.

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Post Office Users' National Council

Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total expenditure by the Post Office Users' National Council was in the financial years (a) 1996-97, (b) 1997-98, (c) 1998-99 and (d) 1999-2000; what the total budgeted expenditure by the Post Office Users' National Council was in 2000-01; and what the total expenditure requested by Postwatch is for 2001-02. [156273]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 30 March 2001]: The Annual Reports of the Post Office Users' National Council (excluding the Post Office Users' Councils for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) show total expenditure of:

Year£
1996-97386,133
1997-98402,711
1998-99652,907
1999-2000785,353

The Post Office Users' National Council's Annual Report for financial year 2000-01 will be laid before Parliament in the usual way in the summer.

I have agreed a budget of £6.9 million for Postwatch for financial year 2001-02. This includes provision for Postwatch's regional structure including its new regional committees in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Economic and Physical Regeneration

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in what ways the region by region allocation of his Department's funds for economic and physical regeneration initiatives is influenced by the availability of previously developed land and buildings. [156196]

Mr. Caborn [holding answer 30 March 2001]: In making the DTI's allocations from the Regional Innovation Fund to the Regional Development Agencies, full account was taken of their regional economic strategies. These followed the guidance issued by government on the use of brownfield land and sites. In particular, the Regional Innovation Fund took into account the wealth of each region, unemployment and relative levels of R&D expenditure.

Departmental Policies (Southwark)

Ms Harman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the London Borough of Southwark, the effects on the London Borough of Southwark of his Department's policies and actions since May 2 1997. [155975]

Mr. Caborn: The London Borough of Southwark 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 borough basis, over 2,900 requests for advice, information and support from SMEs in Southwark have been handled by the Business Links since May 1997.

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During the same period, grants totalling over £127,000 have been awarded to SMEs for innovation and technology under the Smart scheme and a contribution of £67,000 was made towards a TCS programme for a small software company.

All wards in the constituency are eligible for the Enterprise Grant Scheme which was introduced in 2000.

Departmental Policies (Luton, South)

Ms Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the constituency, the effects on the Luton, South constituency of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [156163]

Mr. Caborn: The Department does not maintain statistical information at constituency level.

My hon Friend's constituents, like many others throughout Bedfordshire, will have benefited from my Department's Employment Rights policies which include the National Minimum Wage, Working Time Directive, Part Time Working Regulations and improved Maternity Leave.

In addition, the wards of Biscot, Crawley, Dallow, Farley, High Town, South and Stopsley are eligible for Regional Selective Assistance and the Enterprise Grant Scheme.

In the East of England region, my Department's policies have contributed to growth in employment by 105,000 and a fall in unemployment by 44,908; reductions in youth employment (under 24) by 43.3 per cent. and long-term unemployment (over 26 weeks) by 65.4 per cent.

In the constituency of Luton, South there has been a drop in unemployment by 2.1 per cent. (1,143 people), a reduction in youth unemployment (under 24) by 42 per cent. and a reduction in long term unemployment (over 26 weeks) by 59.3 per cent.


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