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TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Code of Practice (Retailing)

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what meetings her Department's officials and Ministers have had since March about drawing up the code of practice for retailers' behaviour in relation to their suppliers; what the dates of meetings with external organisations and companies were; and who attended the meetings; [12098]

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Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 6 November 2001]: The Director General of Fair Trading consulted with the major supermarkets and over 100 representatives of suppliers on the drafting of the code of practice on supermarkets' relations with their suppliers earlier this year.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced on 31 October that she had accepted the Director General's advice on the code and had asked him to seek to obtain undertakings from the four leading supermarket chains to comply with the code. Copies of her announcement and the code have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Ministers and officials at the Department of Trade and Industry have had no meetings since March with interested parties about drawing up the code of practice on supermarkets' relations with their suppliers.

The Director General of Fair Trading was given responsibility for drawing up the code.

Stop Now Orders

Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what guidance and training has been given to trading standards officers to enable them to implement Stop Now Orders; and if she will make a statement; [12989]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Stop Now Orders require traders to cease conduct which is contrary to a wide range of consumer protection legislation and harms the collective interests of consumers. The Orders were introduced in June of this year.

Two local authorities have secured written undertakings under the regulations, and other cases are under consideration.

DTI has agreed with the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, the Scottish Executive and the National Assembly for Wales a transfer of resources to cover the additional costs associated with the enforcement of the Stop Now Order Regulations.

DTI has also funded a series of seminars to train trading standards officers in the legal and administrative requirements of the regulations. Six events were held across the country during September and October.

Legal Profession

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what arrangements have been made to consult on the OFT report on the legal profession; how many representations have been received (a) in support and (b) against the OFT recommendations; and if she will make a statement. [12621]

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Miss Melanie Johnson: No final arrangements have yet been made to consult on the OFT report. The Government remain committed to ensure that the professions are properly subject to competition.

Patents (Genetically Engineered Animals)

Mr. Etherington: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what UK patents relating to genetically engineered animals and processes for creating such animals have been (a) applied for and published since 9 July 1999 and (b) granted since 28 July 2000. [12568]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Since 9 July 2000, 17 UK patents relating to genetically engineered animals and processes for creating them have been applied for and published. These were GB 2358865 A, GB 2358400 A, GB 2357768 A, GB 2355718 A, GB 2355459 A, GB 2353282 A, GB 2351496 A, GB 2351494 A, GB 2351152 A, GB 2350613 A, GB 2349885 A, GB 2349150 A, GB 2348701 A, GB 2344344 A, GB 2344107 A, GB 2340493 A and GB 2337519 A.

Since 28 July 2000 there have been 10 UK patents granted relating to genetically engineered animals and processes for creating them. These were GB 2351496 B, GB 2351494 B, GB 2351152 B, GB 2349150 B, GB 2348701 B, GB 2344344 B, GB 2344107 B, GB 2335193 B, GB 2331752 B and GB 2331301 B.

This information does not include applications filed at the European Patent Office which may have the effect of UK patents if granted by that office.

Fireworks

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action her Department is taking to ensure that fireworks are not sold to those under the age of 18 years. [12374]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 5 November 2001]: The Fireworks (Safety) Regulations 1997 prohibit the supply of most fireworks to persons under the age of 18 years. The exceptions to this prohibition are low hazard fireworks, that is caps, cracker snaps, novelty matches and party poppers, which, under the Explosives Act 1875 can be sold to persons over the age of 16 years. We provide information to consumers and retailers reminding them of these restrictions. We also work closely with local authority trading standards departments whose responsibility enforcement is.

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans the Government have to review the law on the sale of fireworks; and if she will make a statement. [13184]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 8 November 2001]: The Fireworks (Safety) Regulations 1997 introduced new controls on the types and sizes of fireworks which can be sold to the public. The situation regarding firework safety continues to be carefully monitored.

South West Regional Development Agency

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much public money the South West Regional Development Agency has received in each of the last three years. [12298]

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Alan Johnson: The South West Regional Development Agency received grant in aid of 344,514,000 in 1999–2000, £62,951,000 in 2000–01 and has a grant in aid allocation of £84,663,000 in 2001–02.

ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS

Correspondence

Mr. McLoughlin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will reply to the letters of the hon. Member for West Derbyshire dated 18 July and 20 September, concerning the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme. [7971]

Mr. Morley: My right hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Environment replied to the hon. Member's letter on 18 October 2001.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of correspondence received by her Department from hon. Members did not receive a substantive response within (a) one month, (b) two months, (c) three months, (d) four months, (e) five months and (f) six months in each year since 1997; and if she will make a statement. [9953]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 25 October 2001]: The specific information sought by the hon. Member in relation to DEFRA could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

However, since the creation of DEFRA in June 2001 to the end of October the average length of time taken for the Department to provide replies to letters from hon. Members was 29 working days. Although this is longer than the departmental target of 15 working days we are working hard to ensure that this record is improved and the target met. The Department has suffered severe disruption due to allocating top priority to defeating the foot and mouth epidemic. I accept this is not an excuse for not giving hon. Members good service, and now that normality is returning to the Department one of our urgent priorities is to rectify any weakness in our service delivery.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will reply to the letter of 6 August from the hon. Member for North Shropshire concerning the extension to the burning of cattle at Sleap, Shropshire. [12630]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 6 November 2001]: I replied to the letter from the hon. Member for North Shropshire on 7 November 2001.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when she will reply to the letter of 26 June from the hon. Member for North Shropshire concerning his constituent Mr. Michael Hendry; [12634]

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Mr. Morley [holding answers 6 November 2001]: I replied to the letters from the hon. Member on 7 November 2001.

Mrs. Shephard: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will reply to the letter of 5 September from the right hon. Member for South-West Norfolk (Mrs. Shephard), on the creation of a large disposal site in Norfolk. [13238]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 8 November 2001]: I replied to the right hon. Member on 7 November 2001.


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