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Religious Broadcasting

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will ensure that religious organisations are given the opportunity to obtain local digital radio broadcasting licences. [983]

Dr. Howells: The White Paper "A New Future for Communications" announced that the Government will bring forward legislation to allow religious bodies to hold a local terrestrial digital licence.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment she has made of the compatibility of the Broadcasting Act 1996 with the freedom of expression provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. [985]

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Dr. Howells: The courts decide whether legislative provisions are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. No declaration of incompatibility has been made in the domestic courts under the Human Rights Act 1998 as regards any provision of the Broadcasting Act 1996; nor has there been any finding of incompatibility in respect of that legislation by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if non-religious radio stations can automatically renew analogue licences by applying for digital licences. [984]

Dr. Howells: An application is not sufficient. There is provision for automatic renewal of analogue radio licences only if the licence holder is providing (or is committed to provide) a programme service on a relevant digital multiplex. Religious organisations are disqualified from holding digital radio licences and so cannot take advantage of these provisions.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when applications for the last digital radio licence in London will be determined. [982]

Dr. Howells: The award of the third and final digital multiplex licence for Greater London was made by the Radio Authority on 6 June.


Public Accounts Commission

Mr. Love: To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission who will be answering questions on behalf of the Public Accounts Commission. [1709]

Mr. Alan Williams: I was elected Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission at its meeting on 26 June and will normally expect to answer questions on behalf of the Commission. In the event of my unavoidable absence, questions will be answered by my hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell).


Departmental Secondees

Mr. Tony Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the name, company, grade, directorate, start and end dates and brief description of responsibilities for each person presently seconded into her Department from the private sector. [1706]

Ms Hewitt: There are 104 individuals currently on secondment to the Department. The details requested are given in the table, which has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.


Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her Department's expenditure was on Antarctica in each of the past five years. [1054]

Mr. Wilson: The expenditure by the Department of Trade and Industry through the Science Budget on the British Antarctic Survey is given in the table.

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Science budget expenditure


Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which Minister within her Department has responsibility for deregulation; and if she will list deregulation measures enacted since May 1997. [745]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 25 June 2001]: Ensuring that regulation is effective and not burdensome is a key issue for business, and therefore for my Department. We will be working closely with the Cabinet Office and the Better Regulation Task Force to ensure that business concerns are understood and that my Department regulates only where necessary and with a light touch. The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Nigel Griffiths), will have specific responsibility for regulatory reform within my Department.

Key measures enacted since May 1997 for which this Department is responsible which have resulted in cost savings for business are as follows:

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Competition Law

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the cost of the review of UK competition policy conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers was; and what her Department's response is to the policy recommendations made. [751]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 25 June 2001]: PriceWaterhouseCoopers were selected to undertake the Peer Review of the UK Competition Policy Regime after a competitive tender was held in accordance with the DTI's procurement rules. The cost of the contract was £70,000 (excl. VAT).

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The Peer Review Report is published on the DTI website and will inform decisions made in the context of the Enterprise Bill. I have placed a copy in the Library of the House.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the cases since May 1997 (a) where her predecessors referred mergers to the Competition Commission (i) on the advice of and (ii) against the advice of the Director General of the Office of Fair Trading and (b) where Ministers have not followed merger recommendations by the Competition Commission. [750]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 25 June 2001]: Table 1 lists all the merger cases which have been referred to the Competition Commission (previously known as the Monopolies and Mergers Commission) since May 1997. The Director General of Fair Trading (DGFT) does not advise on newspaper mergers. With the exception of NEG/ScotRail, NEG/Central Trains, Pacificorp/Energy Group, and NTL/CWC, all other references were made in accordance with the advice of the DGFT.

Table 2 lists the cases since May 1997 where Ministers have not followed merger recommendations by the Competition Commission/Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

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Table 1

Merger referredDate referred
National Express Group/Central TrainsMay 1997
National Express Group/ScotRailMay 1997
Priory Hospitals/CharterJune 1997
Capital Radio/Virgin RadioJuly 1997
Mirror Group/Midland Independent NewspapersJuly 1997
Pacificorp/Energy GroupAugust 1997
Fresenius/CaremarkDecember 1997
Johnston Press/Home Counties Newspapers HoldingsFebruary 1998
Ladbroke/CoralsMarch 1998
Tomkins/Kerry GroupApril 1998
New Decaux/More GroupMay 1998
Arriva/Lutonian BusesJuly 1998
Cendant/RAC Motoring ServicesSeptember 1998
IMS Health/PMSIOctober 1998
BSkyB/Manchester UnitedOctober 1998
Rockwool/Owens CorningDecember 1998
British Airways/CityFlyer ExpressJanuary 1999
Johnston Press/Portsmouth and Sunderland NewspapersFebruary 1999
News Communications and Media/Portsmouth and Sunderland NewspapersFebruary 1999
Newsquest/Portsmouth and Sunderland NewspapersFebruary 1999
Air Products/DeVilbiss MedequipFebruary 1999
Hepworth/Naylor IndustriesMarch 1999
Trinity/Mirror GroupMarch 1999
Regional Independent Media Holdings/Mirror GroupMarch 1999
NTL/Newcastle UnitedApril 1999
Whitbread/Allied DomecqJuly 1999
Alanod Aluminium/MetalloxydJuly 1999
Universal Foods/Pointing HoldingsAugust 1999
CHC Helicopter Corporation/Helicopter Services GroupSeptember 1999
NTL/CWCNovember 1999
Vivendi/BSkyBNovember 1999
Newsquest/News Communications and MediaDecember 1999
Johnston Press/News Communications and MediaDecember 1999
Trinity Mirror/News Communications and MediaDecember 1999
Carlton/United News and MediaFebruary 2000
Granada/Carlton CommunicationsFebruary 2000
Granada/United News and MediaFebruary 2000
Independent News and Media/Belfast TelegraphMarch 2000
Air Canada/Canadian AirlinesMay 2000
Sylvan International/Locker GroupJune 2000
BUPA/Community Hospitals GroupJune 2000
Nutreco/Hydro SeafoodJuly 2000
Gannett UK/Regional Independent Media HoldingsJuly 2000
Johnston Press/Regional Independent Media HoldingsJuly 2000
Guardian Media Group/Regional Independent Media HoldingsJuly 2000
Interbrew/BassSeptember 2000
Grundfos Holdings/Myson PumpsOctober 2000
CAIK Holding/Icopal ASNovember 2000
Adtranz/RailcareNovember 2000
City Technology/Marconi Applied TechnologiesDecember 2000
BASF/Takeda ChemicalsDecember 2000
SCR Sibelco/assets of Anglo PacificJanuary 2001
Lloyds TSB/Abbey NationalFebruary 2001
Reed Elsevier/HarcourtFebruary 2001
General Healthcare Group/Community Hospitals GroupMarch 2001
Octagon Motorsports/assets of British Racing Drivers ClubApril 2001
Blockbuster/Apollo VideoMay 2001

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Table 2

Merger reportDate report published
Bass/Carlsberg TetleyJune 1997
British Airways/CityFlyer ExpressJuly 1999
Trinity/Mirror GroupJuly 1999
Sylvan International/Locker GroupNovember 2000

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to introduce criminal sanctions for breaches of competition law. [749]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 25 June 2001]: We have announced our intention to consult on proposals that there should be a new criminal offence for individuals who engage in cartels. These proposals will be published in July.

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