Previous Section Index Home Page

Miners' Compensation

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the average final settlement figure in respect of chronic bronchitis and emphysema has been in (a) Nottinghamshire and (b) the United Kingdom via (i) the expedited route and (ii) the medical assessment process. [23332]

19 Dec 2001 : Column: 474W

Mr. Wilson: To date, the average expedited payment in Nottinghamshire is £2,804 and £4,107 nationally. The average settlement following the full medical assessment is £4,973 in Nottinghamshire and £5,416 nationally. The discrepancies between the regional and national figures reflect the variances of compensatable disabilities among claimants.

Depleted Uranium

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the (a) volume and (b) value of depleted uranium and products containing depleted uranium, imported into the United Kingdom in each year since 1985; and if she will make a statement. [22312]

Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 13 December 2001]: Data on imports of depleted uranium and depleted uranium products since 1985 are not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what regulations there are to control the importation of (a) depleted uranium, (b) munitions containing depleted uranium and (c) other products containing depleted uranium; and if she will make a statement. [22313]

Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 13 December 2001]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 30 October 2001, Official Report, column 587.

Sub-post Offices

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on whether new initiatives to support the sub-post office network are expected to be delivered within the planned timetable. [23593]

Mr. Alexander [holding answer 18 December 2001]: The £2 million Government fund to support volunteer and community initiatives to maintain or reopen post office facilities in rural areas came into operation in September. Development of funding proposals to implement the recommendations of the performance and innovation unit's report to help sustain and improve the Post Office network is continuing. The pilot of the Government Practitioner 'Your Guide' started in August. Work on other measures is well advanced. We have now received advice from the Postal Services commission on transitional financial assistance to rural post offices from 2003.

Small Print

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will investigate the size of the print used in setting out the terms and conditions of offers made by firms to the general public. [20177]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 3 December 2001]: We have no plans for such an investigation. Where an advertisement for an offer for goods or services is rendered misleading because relevant terms and conditions are illegible, it may breach the advertising industry's British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion. In that case the Advertising Standards Authority could direct the advertiser to amend or remove

19 Dec 2001 : Column: 475W

the advertisement. Furthermore, any price indicated to consumers which is rendered misleading as a result of illegible terms and conditions could be the subject of a criminal prosecution under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. In relation to standard consumer contracts, the Director General of Fair Trading has used his powers under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 to ensure that these are presented in print of acceptable size. In relation to offers for credit, under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 in order for the terms of a consumer credit agreement to be enforceable they must be readily legible.

SMART Awards

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry who is consulted in allocating SMART awards; who oversees their administration; and what measures are in place to ensure that SMART moneys are spent appropriately. [23818]

Nigel Griffiths: In allocating SMART awards for research and development in England the Department of Trade and Industry seeks advice from its own staff with knowledge of particular sectors of industry, from qualified accountants, from the Patent Office, which carries out patent searches, from other Government Departments and from the following external sources of technical expertise:

SMART Feasibility Study and Development Project applications are administered and allocated by Government Offices for the Regions. Some SMART Micro Project applications are also administered by Government Offices for the Regions and others by the Small Business Service headquarters in London. By April 2002 all Micro Project applications will be administered by Government Offices for the Regions. SMART Technology Review and Technology Study applications are administered and allocated by the Small Business Service headquarters.

All SMART projects and associated expenditure are carefully monitored by staff from Government Offices for the Regions or the Small Business Service against the project proposals for which the grants are awarded. Grant moneys are paid only in respect of eligible expenditure and only if the project makes satisfactory progress towards its objectives. Additionally, full payment of grant

19 Dec 2001 : Column: 476W

is withheld until the project is completed and an independent accountant has reported the total expenditure on the project and confirmed it was incurred for the purpose intended.

Seaside Resorts

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what guidance her Department has issued to regional development agencies on supporting seaside and coastal towns; [24151]

Alan Johnson: The Government have welcomed the publication of "Sea Changes". The Department is very much aware of the regeneration and economic development needs of seaside resorts, given its responsibility for the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and for co-ordination of policy on the assisted areas and structural funds maps.

We look to the RDAs to continue to develop and implement economic and regeneration strategies on a regional basis, working closely with other regional and local partners. In its guidance to the RDAs on preparing their Corporate Plans for 2002–04, the Department has specifically asked them to explain how they intend to work with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, local Regional Tourist Boards, and other regional, sub- regional and local authority bodies in the development and implementation of sustainable tourism strategies. The guidance makes clear that these strategies will need to include the promotion of coastal resort regeneration.

The DTI has not nominated specific resort champions.

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many regional development agencies have nominated a board member to be a resort champion for that region; and if she will list (a) the regional development agencies which have done so and (b) the board members nominated. [24152]

Alan Johnson: The Regional Development Agencies have not nominated specific board members as resort champions. The DTI is not in a position to instruct RDAs in such detail as to how they should achieve their objectives. However, RDAs will continue to play an important role in the regeneration of seaside resorts.

New Electricity Trading Arrangements

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received in respect of the impact of the new electricity trading arrangements; what have been the concerns raised most frequently by these representations; and what plans she has for assessing the operation of the new electricity trading arrangements after a specified period of time. [21453]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 18 December 2001]: My officials and I have met with a large number of industry representatives on the impact of the new electricity

19 Dec 2001 : Column: 477W

trading arrangements (NETA). On the whole, NETA is seen to have been successful. Ofgem produced a report of the first three months of NETA and found that:

Ofgem will be conducting a full review of the first year's operation of NETA.

A frequent concern that has been raised has been around the impact of the changes on smaller generators. At the request of DTI, Ofgem produced a report entitled a 'Review of the Initial Impact of NETA on Smaller Generators' on 31 August 2001. In response, DTI issued a consultation paper. I have received 41 responses to the Government's consultation. These responses are from a wide cross-section of industry, including representatives of the renewables and CHP sectors, suppliers of electricity and industry and environment associations. The responses to the consultation have raised a wide range of issues which Government will need to consider carefully. We will be publishing a full Government response to our consultation and a summary of responses.

In the meantime, DTI and Ofgem have formed a working group to look urgently at the obstacles to consolidation services under NETA. The working group comprises a wide cross-section of industry.

Next Section Index Home Page