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Post Office Counters (Tribunals)

Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many employment tribunals involving Post Office Counters are awaiting hearing; how many employment tribunal cases are unresolved in the Manchester area; and what steps he is taking to resolve these cases. [157004]

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Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 5 April 2001]: I understand that there are currently 18 employment tribunal cases involving Post Office Counters Ltd. that are awaiting hearing. These concern either Post Office Counters Ltd.'s directly employed staff or subpostmasters and other agents. Post Office Counters Ltd.'s legal agents in Manchester are currently dealing with six cases in the North West. A further employment tribunal case in the Manchester area has gone to appeal. Legal decisions on how the law applies in particular circumstances are for the tribunals and courts.

Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the legal costs were for 2000 to Post Office Counters in representation at employment tribunals. [157005]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 5 April 2001]: Details of the legal costs of Post Office Counters Ltd. are commercially confidential, under Exemption 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Public Information.

Fish Genetics

Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the research programmes into fish genetics that his Department has been involved with in the last 10 years. [157274]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The Department is supporting the FISHSENSE project in the LINK Cell Engineering programme. The aim of this project is to develop a bioassay for environmental toxicity testing using cell lines from the bluegill sunfish which have been successfully

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transfected with the luciferase gene from the firefly. These transfected cells are used to assay for the presence of various toxicants by measuring the light produced by the luminescent luciferase protein.

In addition, I understand that the Research Councils, supported by this Department, have been and are funding a number of relevant projects.

Britain-Israel Trade Missions

Mr. Stephen Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many Britain/Israel trade missions have taken place in each of the last six years. [R] [156893]

Mr. Caborn: The table summarises the supported trade missions from the UK to Israel that have taken place in each of the last six years.

YearNumber of missions
19956
19968
19978
19988
199911
20007

Note:

There have also been other trade missions that were not supported by my Department.


Advantage West Midlands

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what funding for April 2001 to March 2002 is unallocated by Advantage West Midlands; and if he will make a statement on the single regeneration budget. [157115]

Mr. Caborn: The information requested is as follows:

Funding during the 2001-02 financial year

Advantage West Midlands' total programme budget for the 2001-02 financial year is £148,135,000 gross. In addition, in its Corporate Plan it has identified £10,823,000 committed expenditure from the last financial year which will be transferred into the 2001-02 financial year. The Corporate Plan identifies £143,665,000 expenditure already committed and sets out the Agency's plans for using the uncommitted funding in support of the Regional Strategy.

Single Regeneration Budget

In the Spending Review 2000, RDAs were given considerable additional funding and flexibilities to deliver their regional strategies, whose primary purpose is to enhance the region's competitiveness through sustainable economic development, regeneration and business growth. A key flexibility is the introduction of a single budget from April 2002, which will subsume all current RDA funding streams. There will not, therefore, be a national SRB bidding round for new schemes in 2001-02.

Those RDAs with sufficient resources, after commitments from earlier SRB rounds are taken into account, have been invited to put forward proposals for using funds from their SRB expenditure line in their Corporate Plans for 2001-02. Each RDA will be able to decide on its own approach, which will contribute to the development of the RDAs' regional strategies.

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RDAs will be expected to meet their commitments to schemes from SRB Rounds 1-6 from their single budget.

Motor Vehicle Repairs

Mr. Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what regulations govern the use of non-original equipment parts in motor vehicle body repairs. [157124]

Mr. Hill: I have been asked to reply.

None. However some other vehicle parts, such as tyres, brake linings and lamps have to meet minimum European safety standards. These standards are applied equally to both original equipment parts and non-original equipment parts.

CHURCH COMMISSIONERS

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Martlew: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, if the Commissioners will suspend rent payments on those farms which they own on which cases of foot and mouth disease have been confirmed. [157147]

Mr. Stuart Bell: The Commissioners fully recognise the seriousness of the foot and mouth crisis, not least in Cumbria where they have a number of confirmed cases and much of their land is subject to exclusion orders.

Any request to help in case of hardship will be considered on its merits. Tenants who have had cases of foot and mouth confirmed among their livestock, as well as those who are subject to consequential losses, will be given sympathetic consideration in accordance with the Church Commissioners' long standing policy.

SCOTLAND

Single European Currency

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent representations she has made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer regarding the impact of a single European currency on the Scottish economy. [145642]

Mrs. Liddell: I have regular discussions with my right hon. Friend on a wide range of issues. The determining factor underpinning any Government decision to join the single currency is whether the economic case is clear and unambiguous. The Government have said that they will make another assessment of the five economic tests early in the next Parliament.

Drug Deaths

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what action her Department is taking in relation to the increase in the number of drug deaths in Scotland. [145643]

Mrs. Liddell: The Government work in partnership with the Scottish Executive to combat the menace of drugs in Scotland.

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Reduction of drug-related deaths is a key objective of the Scottish Executive's drug strategy "Tackling Drugs in Scotland: Action in Partnership" which was published in March 1999.

Winter Deaths

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if she will make a statement on the (a) number of and (b) trends in excess winter deaths in Scotland since May 1997. [145663]

Mrs. Liddell: The collection of statistics on excess winter deaths in Scotland is a devolved matter.

Fuel poverty contributes to the number of excess winter deaths among pensioners. The UK Government and the Scottish Executive have been working together to tackle fuel poverty and the Government and the devolved Administrations recently published a UK Fuel Poverty Strategy. The Government have taken direct action to help older households with their fuel bills by increasing the Winter Fuel Allowance to £200. The Allowance is paid to over 700,000 eligible households in Scotland. We have also taken other action, such as reducing the level of VAT on domestic fuel to 5 per cent.

Govan Shipyard

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if she will make a statement on the employment impact of recent orders won by Govan shipyard. [145941]

Mrs. Liddell: Subject to agreement on satisfactory terms and conditions, the Ministry of Defence intends to place orders for two Alternative Landing Ships Logistics with BAE Systems at Govan. I understand that the yard has also secured other commercial and defence contracts. These orders further help the position of the yard until potential work on the First of Class for the Type 45 Destroyers materialises. Management and unions at the yard recognise the need to secure further short-term work.

Special Advisers

Ms Roseanna Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many special advisers have been employed by the Scotland Office in (a) 1997-98, (b) 1998-99, (c) 1999-2000, and (d) 2000-01; and what the total costs were. [150060]

Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 12 February 2001]: In the Scottish Office in 1997-98 there were two special advisers and during 1998-99 there were three special advisers in post at any given time. The costs for each year were: 1997-98 £166,933; 1998-99 £295,676.

The Scotland Office was established in its present form on 1 July 1999. In 1999-2000 and 2000-01, there were three special advisers in post at any one time, one of whom was unpaid. The costs for 1999-2000 were £76,367 and the costs in 2000-01 (to end of March) are £92,379.


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