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Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he has received the draft of the new BNFL corporate plan referred to in evidence by his officials to the Trade and Industry Select Committee, published in its Ninth report, Session 1999-2000; and if he will place copies of the most recent draft he has received in the Library. [160543]

Mr. Hain: My officials have recently received a copy of BNFL's latest Corporate Plan 2001-02 to 2005-06, which they will be discussing further with the company. The plan contains commercially confidential information and, under exemption 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, will not be made public.

9 May 2001 : Column: 217W


Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the competitiveness of the newspaper wholesale supply marketplace. [160265]

Dr. Howells: DTI works closely with businesses across the newspaper sector. In particular, I am aware of the agreement by those involved in both newspapers and magazines to enter into a process to re-examine distribution issues and we are following developments in those discussions.

Post Office Closures

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) rural and (b) non-rural post offices closed in (i) the last 12 months for which figures are available and (ii) 2000. [159447]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 27 April 2001]: I am informed by the Post Office that, subject to final verification, a net total of 112 urban offices and 435 rural offices closed in year ending 26 March 2001 1 . Of the closures in the year, only four are permanent.

The primary reason for temporary closures is the retirement of sub-postmasters.

In addition, 123 rural and 46 urban offices reopened in the year. Also, subject to final verification, net closures in the final quarter of the year ending 26 March 2001 were 113.

This indicates a significant downward trend in post office closures compared with the third quarter when net closures were 135 and the first half of the year when closures were running at a rate of 150 per quarter.

This means that during the period April 2000 to March 2001, in the first half of the year net closures were running at 300 whereas in the final half of the year closures were 17 per cent. lower at 248.

Figures for the calendar year 2000 are not available. The Post Office is currently finalising with the Postal Services Commission a process and format for reporting information on the post office network on a quarterly basis with effect from the current financial year.

Miners' Compensation

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many former coal miners suffering from (a) emphysema, (b) chronic bronchitis and (c) asthma, or their widows, have outstanding claims for compensation and have received no payment to date; and how many such cases have been paid (i) in full and (ii) in part at the most recent available date. [160611]

Mr. Hain: To date, IRISC, the Department's claims handlers, have received over 145,000 claims in respect of respiratory disease; 1,000 new claims continue to be initiated each week. Of these, almost 95,000 are from live claimants and the remaining 50,000 claims are pursued by the claimants' estate.

9 May 2001 : Column: 218W

Until claims are assessed, the type and level of injury cannot be identified into the categories above.

The Department has made 28,363 interim payments and 8,135 payments in full and final settlement. Together, £142.2 million has been paid in total compensation for respiratory disease to date.

Mr. Alan W. Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many medical assessment procedures were conducted each week since 1 January 2000 in the miners' compensation claim for chest disease. [160497]

Mr. Hain: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave on 13 March 2001, Official Report, columns 548-49W.

The individual weekly totals from 11 March 2001 to date are as follows:

Week endingNumber of MAPs
11 March659
18 March565
25 March570
1 April537
8 April694
15 April541
22 April507
29 April757

The total number of MAPs undertaken to date is 18,048.

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much money has been spent (a) to date and (b) during the last 12 months, under the provisions of the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers' Compensation) Act 1979. [160535]

Mr. Meacher: I have been asked to reply as Minister responsible for the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers' Compensation) Act 1979.

Since the Act came into force in 1980 and up until April 2001, the total amount paid out has been £84.5 million. The total amount paid in the last complete financial year 2000-01 was £11,885,000.


Government Business

Mr. Quinn: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what guidance is issued to Government Departments on the conduct of Government business once an election is announced. [160945]

Marjorie Mowlam: The Prime Minister has written to ministerial colleagues about Government business during the election. Guidance for civil servants covering their conduct was also issued to Departments, and specific guidance has been issued to special advisers. Copies of all three documents have been placed in the Libraries of the House, as well as guidance on the use of the Knowledge Network system.

9 May 2001 : Column: 219W



Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, what percentage of court fines were collected in each year since 1971. [160474]

Jane Kennedy: Figures for court fines alone are not available. In the year 1999-2000, the magistrates courts received payment of 58.1 per cent. of the value of new impositions and orders made in that period in criminal matters (including fines, compensation orders, confiscation orders and contributions to legal aid) although some receipts were in relation to amounts imposed in earlier years. In the period April 2000 to December 2000, the figure was 54.9 per cent. Data collection of this sort started in April 1999, and figures for earlier periods are not available.

Public Records

Helen Jackson: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, if he will list those public organisations which are responsible for the maintenance of their own public records and exempt from supervision by the Public Record Office; and what powers he has to ensure that such bodies keep proper records to the standards applied by the Public Record Office. [160542]

Mr. Lock: Under the Public Records Act 1958 s.3(1-2), all bodies holding public records are responsible for their maintenance, and do so under the guidance, supervision and co-ordination of the Keeper of Public Records. No public records body is exempt from the supervision of the Public Record Office.

All public authorities will be subject to the Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice for records management under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Work is ongoing with the Information Commissioner to establish the division of responsibility for the supervision of records management in public authorities.

The Public Records Act 1958 allows for selected public records of enduring historical value to be held in places outside the Public Record Office by deposit under s.4(1) of the Act. The Keeper of Public Records may withdraw place of deposit status from an office if appropriate standards of public records storage and access are not maintained.


National Minimum Wage

Mrs. Gilroy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his Department's estimates are of the number of people who have benefited from the national minimum wage in (a) Plymouth, Sutton constituency, (b) Plymouth, Devonport constituency, (c) South-West Devon constituency and (d) Plymouth unitary authority area. [160242]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

9 May 2001 : Column: 220W

Letter from Len Cook to Mrs. Linda Gilroy, dated 9 May 2001:

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