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Universal Banking

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with the Halifax, Nationwide, Alliance and Leicester and Euronet Worldwide banks about making the universal banking system free of charge in rural areas. [6398]

Mr. Alexander: I will write shortly to the hon. Member and place a copy of the letter in the Libraries of the House.

Post Offices

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post offices have (a) opened and (b) reopened in each of the last 20 years. [5481]

Mr. Alexander: I understand from Post Office Network that, while they have records of post office closure figures net of openings and reopenings, they do not have separate historic data showing figures for post office openings and reopenings. In the financial year 2000–01, 169 post offices opened or reopened.

Huntingdon Life Sciences

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the actions taken to help provide banking facilities for Huntingdon Life Sciences; and if she will make a statement. [5693]

Ms Hewitt: DTI has maintained regular contact with Huntingdon Life Sciences plc, as part of its industry sponsorship function. It was agreed at the time of the

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re-funding of the company that the Department would, if necessary, provide basic banking facilities. The Government considered a number of options regarding provision of banking facilities to HLS. Owing to intimidation of bank staff by animal rights extremists, Huntingdon Life Sciences has not yet been able to find a commercial bank to provide banking services.

My Department has, therefore, undertaken to operate basic banking facilities for Huntingdon Life Sciences while negotiations with banks continue. It is not providing overdraft facilities or other financial support. My Department will be recovering the direct costs of providing this service from the company.

Share Dealings (Daily Mirror)

Mr. Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects to receive his Department's report on the alleged share dealings by the editor of the Daily Mirror; and if he will make a statement. [5900]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Department's long- established practice is to neither confirm nor deny the existence of such investigations, nor discuss the affairs of individual companies or persons involved.

Plutonium and Uranium

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will publish figures for the United Kingdom's stocks of civil plutonium and uranium as at 31 December 2000. [6454]

Nigel Griffiths: I have today placed in the Library of the House figures for the United Kingdom's national holdings of civil plutonium and uranium as at 31 December 2000. In accordance with our commitment under the "Guidelines for the Management of Plutonium", I have today also sent the figures to the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who will be circulating them to member states in due course.

Employment Disputes

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the consultation document on employment dispute resolution will be published; and what it will contain. [6453]

Alan Johnson: My Department is publishing "Routes to Resolution: Improving Dispute Resolution in Britain" today. The document sets out proposals for reform which will create a modern system of employment dispute resolution, fit for the future.

The consultation document sets out a radical programme for reform, underpinned by the fundamental principles of access to justice, fair and efficient tribunals, and a modern, user-friendly, public service. Its starting point is that many disagreements in work can be successfully resolved without recourse to litigation through better procedures in the workplace. Equally, it is designed to achieve a tribunal system which promotes conciliation and is equipped to cope with increasing caseloads.

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Claims to employment tribunals have tripled over the last decade and the Government believe that the interests of tribunal users and the taxpayer are better served by a system which promotes the amicable settlement of disputes where possible.

The consultation paper seeks views on a number of proposals including:


Copies of "Routes to Resolution: Improving Dispute Resolution in Britain" have been laid in the Library of the House. The deadline for responses is 8 October.

Employment Tribunal Claims

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many employment tribunal claims were reported in each year since 1997. [6276]

Alan Johnson: The information is as follows:

Employment tribunal applications for Great Britain

Number of registered applications
1996–9788,910
1997–9880,435
1998–9991,913
1999–2000103,935
2000–01130,408

Support Packages

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much public money is set aside to provide support packages for industries in difficulty. [5452]

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Ms Hewitt: The Department has many schemes to support British Industry in adjusting to change and improving its competitiveness. it is currently reviewing its support to ensure it is best targeted on raising productivity and encouraging an entrepreneurial culture.

Although it is not our policy to provide support packages for failing businesses, support is available to help businesses invest, modernise and diversify.

For example £129 million was set aside in March 2000 for measures to deal with the consequences of the decision by BMW to sell its Rover plant at Longbridge.

The UK Coal Operating Aid Scheme provides for up to £170 million to be paid to the industry over the period between April 2000 and July 2002.

In June 2000 the Government announced a package for UK textiles and clothing to promote competitiveness in areas such as innovation and new technology for which over £6 million has so far been committed.

Export and Non-proliferation Bill

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the draft secondary legislation relating to the draft Export and Non-Proliferation Bill will be published. [6389]

Nigel Griffiths: Draft dummy orders (i.e. draft outline secondary legislation) relating to the Export Control Bill will be made available before Parliament resumes in the autumn.

Royal Mail

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what reports she has received of job losses proposed by Royal Mail in London. [5384]

Mr. Alexander: While Ministers have met both the Consignia management and the unions to discuss a variety of issues, operational matters, such as the restructuring of Royal Mail's sorting offices, are a matter for the company.

Energy Review

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which nuclear experts are to be (a) seconded and (b) invited to participate in the energy review being carried out by the Energy Minister for the Performance and Innovation Unit; and on what basis they were selected. [6254]

Mr. Wilson: The Performance and Innovation Unit will be carrying out the review with a team consisting of civil servants, private and public sector and experts in the field of energy. Members of the team and their backgrounds are detailed in the Project Management Plan which will be posted shortly on the PIU website www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/innovation.

The review will be carried out in an open and inclusive way and is happy to receive contributions from all interested parties. The review team will be holding a series of workshops with key stakeholders covering all interests of energy policy. The invitees to the first workshop on 20 July include the British Nuclear Industry Forum. A full list of invitees is on the PIU website.

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