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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 20 November 2001

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

British Coal (Equal Value Pay Claim)

Mr. Barron: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will place in the Library a copy of the agreement reached between her Department and the National Union of Mineworkers in April on the equal value pay claim of ex-British Coal women workers; and if she will make a statement. [16093]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 19 November 2001]: I have today placed in the Library of the House a copy of the letter of the Minister for Energy and Competitiveness in Europe, my right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Peter Hain) of 23 April to the President of the National Union of Mineworkers setting out the details of the agreement reached on 9 April.

Regulations

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will introduce targets for reducing the number of regulations issued by her Department over the next four years and for consequent financial savings. [14430]

Ms Hewitt: The DTI keeps the regulations for which it is responsible under constant review and welcomes the comments of stakeholders on them. There are no plans to introduce numerical targets for the reduction of regulations.

The Government's policy is to regulate only when necessary, ensuring that regulations are fair and effective, so that they protect the vulnerable but do not stifle competitiveness or productivity. New processes including the Regulatory Reform Act 2001 give us powerful tools to help cut down over-complex, overlapping and over- burdensome regulatory regimes.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has asked all Whitehall Departments to identify by the end of this year areas of legislation that are ripe for reform under the Act and other procedures. A Government-wide action plan will then be published containing firm commitments to specific reforms and initiatives which will aid both businesses and the public sector.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many regulations were introduced by her Department in each year since May 1997. [14428]

Ms Hewitt: Figures for the number of statutory instruments introduced each year are as follows (year from 1 April in each case, save 1997, where the figures run from May 1997 to 31 March 1998):


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Of these 530 regulations, we estimate that 9 per cent. reduced costs borne by businesses, charities and voluntary bodies, while over 75 per cent. had little or no effect on costs for businesses, voluntary bodies, and charities. Over 30 per cent. of all the regulations introduced by DTI since May 1997 have been orders licensing firms to provide public telecommunications services, increasing consumer choice and competition in this sector.

Regulatory Impact Assessments (Compliance Cost Assessments for measures introduced before August 1998) have been completed in respect of all measures imposing or reducing costs and placed in the Libraries of the Houses.

Departmental Promotions

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much her Department spent on information literature, advertising and campaign material in the financial years (a) 1995–96, (b) 1996–97, (c) 1997–98, (d) 1998–99 (e) 1999–2000 and (f) 2000–01; and if she will make a statement. [12260]

Ms Hewitt: For expenditure on information literature, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for North Tayside (Pete Wishart) on 17 October 2001, Official Report, column 1225W. Expenditure on advertising, excluding VAT through the COI has been as follows:

£
1995–961,086,410
1996–973,087,350
1997–982,475,705
1998–9914,154,738
1999–200012,620,476
2000–0112,159,710

Expenditure on campaign materials is not held centrally.


Euro

Mr. Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what funds are available from the (a) EU and (b) UK Government to compensate the (i) industrial and (ii) service sector in Britain for losses caused by the weakness of the euro; and how much has been paid, by industry and service, for each of the last three periods for which figures are available. [15402]

Ms Hewitt: No such funds are available from either Her Majesty's Government or the EU. No payments have therefore been made.

Equal Pay

Barbara Follett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action she has taken to encourage employers and trade unions to work in partnership to achieve equal pay. [15727]

Alan Johnson: The pay gap is now 18 per cent. for full-time hourly earnings. This has halved from 37 per cent. since the introduction of the Equal Pay Act in 1970 and is the smallest gap recorded, but is still far too high.

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We have announced extra funding for the Equal Opportunities Commission to prepare a model for voluntary pay reviews and will encourage employers and trade unions to take up this and other tools. To encourage partnership working generally between employers and trade unions, the Government have several initiatives including the Partnership at Work Fund. Applications for grant are currently being sought and could include projects looking to use partnerships to achieve equal pay.

More generally, the Government are taking a range of actions to improve the operation of the labour market and, in doing so, the position of women. For example, about 900,000 women have benefited from the introduction of the national minimum wage in 1999, and this measure has helped to reduce the pay gap by over one percentage point. The Employment Bill placed before Parliament earlier this month provides for equal pay questionnaires and improved maternity rights, and the Government have accepted each of the recommendations made by the Work and Parents Taskforce on how a duty can be placed on employers to consider seriously requests from parents of young children to work flexibly.

BNFL

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the purchase price paid by BNFL for each of the companies acquired in the US since 1990 was. [14862]

Mr. Wilson: BNFL has informed me that BNFL Business Group has purchased five companies in the US since 1990:


Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the annual throughput capacity is of the Sellafield MOX plant; and what the original design capacity was. [14860]

Mr. Wilson: This is commercially sensitive information.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the final cost of the Sellafield MOX plant constructed by BNFL was. [14861]

Mr. Wilson: In BNFL's latest published annual report and accounts SMP is identified as a tangible asset in the course of construction with a carrying value of £462 million. This value was based on the assumption that there would be a positive decision on justification of the manufacture of MOX and that plutonium commissioning of the plant would proceed.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the (a) profit and (b) loss of BNFL Inc has been in each year since the company was established. [14863]

Mr. Wilson: This is a commercial matter for BNFL.

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As a US subsidiary BNFL Inc is not required to report annual profit and loss details as is required by BNFL plc in the UK. BNFL Inc is part of BNFL plc's Nuclear Clean Up and Decommissioning Business Group for which segmental information is published in BNFL's annual report and accounts.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the value is of overseas contracts won by BNFL since 1990 for (a) reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, (b) shipping spent nuclear, vitrified waste and MOX fuel and (c) manufacturing MOX fuel. [14864]

Mr. Wilson: This is a commercial matter for BNFL. Information about the financial performance of BNFL's spent fuel management business can be found in the company's annual report and accounts.

Atomic Energy Police Force

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many Atomic Energy police have (a) transferred to the police service and (b) been made redundant in each of the last three years; and what plans she has to merge the Atomic Energy police force and the MOD police force. [15162]

Mr. Wilson: Eight officers resigned from the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) constabulary to take up appointment in other police forces in the last three years and four in the calendar year 2001 so far, two in 2000 and two in 1999. No officers have been made redundant over this period. The Quinquennial Review of UKAEA has considered a range of options for the future of the UKAEA constabulary including options involving working more closely with the MOD police force. An announcement will be made in due course.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the cost was of operating the Atomic Energy police force in the last 12 months; and how many Atomic Energy police officers are employed. [15160]

Mr. Wilson: The cost of operating the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority constabulary for the financial year 2000–01 was £21.1 million. There are currently 515 officers employed in the force.


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