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Distance Selling

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the regulation of distance selling. [27930]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Consumer protection laws, such as the Sale of Goods legislation, apply equally to distance selling as when shopping on the high street.

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In addition, the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations came into force on 31 October 2000 and cover all forms of distance selling, including shopping over the internet, telephone or catalogue.

The main provisions of the regulations are:

Market Research

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what expenditure has been incurred by her (a) Department, (b) agencies and (c) non-departmental public bodies in each of the last four years on (i) opinion polling, (ii) focus groups and (iii) other forms of market research; and if she will list the surveys commissioned and the purpose of each. [27951]

Ms Hewitt: The Department does not centrally collect the information sought at the required level of detail, and to provide it would entail disproportionate cost. Where surveys are conducted which may be considered to contain an element relating to opinion polling; focus groups; or other forms of market research, it is not possible to identify separately the costs of that element.

Assisted Area Status

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she will commence planning for the review of assisted area status due in 2006. [28650]

Alan Johnson: The assisted areas map is constrained by European Commission rules and guidelines which, based on past experience, are likely to change before the next review. If the timetable for the next map were to repeat that which led to the current map, detailed consideration of individual areas would start during 2005.

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the impact on areas of the removal of assisted area status by the implementation of the Assisted Area Order 2000. [28651]

Alan Johnson: None. Assisted area status allows, but does not require, public authorities to pay regional state aid to companies in those areas; in itself it does not affect an area.

Depleted Uranium

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what quantity of depleted uranium is in use in civil non-nuclear applications in the United Kingdom; to what uses the DU is put; what disposal facilities exist for waste DU metal and its undiluted compounds; and in what quantities and where unused DU is stored. [28501]

Nigel Griffiths: A report on depleted uranium has recently been published by the Environment Agency: "Depleted Uranium: A Study of its Uses within the UK and Disposal Issues" (Reference R&D Technical Report

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P3–088/TR), copies of which are available from the Environment Agency. This report provides details on the quantities, uses and storage of depleted uranium in civil non-nuclear applications in the United Kingdom, and describes, among other areas, the safeguards arrangements for the depleted uranium. Issues relating to the disposal of radioactive materials, including waste depleted uranium metal and its undiluted compounds, are a matter for the Environment Agency.

Carbon Monoxide

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to reduce accidents caused by the inhalation of carbon monoxide from coal and oil-fired appliances. [28054]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 17 January 2002]: The DTI is continuing to work with other Government Departments and industry to increase awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide among consumers. Specifically our activity has included a mobile exhibition units road show targeted at areas with the highest occurrence of carbon monoxide related incidents and dissemination of advice through information toolkits and leaflets. This continues to be a priority area for consumer safety.


Mr. Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the safeguard provisions and implementation relating to the phasing out of ceramic import quotas from China to the United Kingdom. [28775]

Nigel Griffiths: In bilateral negotiations on China's Accession to the WTO, the European Community and China agreed to phase-out existing import quotas. EU import quotas on Chinese ceramics will be eliminated on 1 January 2005. The terms of China's accession to the WTO include an additional safeguard mechanism available for 12 years to guard against damaging import surges.

Mr. Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action is being taken in the World Trade Organisation on tariffs on United Kingdom imports of pottery catering wares into the United States; and if she will make a statement. [28774]

Nigel Griffiths: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms Walley) on 16 January 2002, Official Report, column 322W.

Sub-post Offices

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when a decision will be made on the future of the urban network for sub-post offices. [28680]

Mr. Alexander [holding answer 18 January 2002]: Government have agreed in principle to support the compensation package negotiated between the Post Office Ltd. and the National Federation of SubPostmasters for a restructuring of the urban post office network. Detailed discussion continues on the programme and implementation will be carried forward in consultation with interested parties.

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Maternity Leave

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage of women who left full-time employment on maternity leave returned (a) by the end of and (b) after the end of the statutory maternity leave period to (i) full-time employment and (ii) part-time employment, in each of the last five years. [27739]

Alan Johnson [holding answer 18 January 2002]: The latest information available is from a 1996 study entitled "Maternity Rights and Benefits in Britain 1996", Department of Social Security Research Report No. 67, published by the Stationery Office.

The study included a survey of mothers who had given birth in June 1995 and collected information on their economic activity in spring 1996, some 10 to 11 months after giving birth, and thus after the point at which any statutory entitlement to maternity leave had expired.

At this point, 34 per cent. of women employed full-time before taking maternity leave had returned to employment on a full-time basis and 35 per cent. had returned to employment on a part-time basis.

It is not possible to identify the proportions returning to employment before and after their entitlements to statutory maternity leave had expired.

The Department and the Department for Work and Pensions have commissioned a repeat survey in order to evaluate the impact of the changes to maternity leave arrangements introduced in 1999 and to provide a baseline for evaluation of the changes to maternity arrangements announced in the 2001 Budget and contained in the Employment Bill.

Radioactive Waste

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what records she has of the (a) number of containers, (b) total weight and (c) geographical extent of dumping of radioactive waste which was deposited approximately 250 miles off Land's End during the 1960s and 1970s. [27191]

Mr. Meacher: I have been asked to reply.

Details of all UK radioactive waste disposals in the north-east Atlantic have been made public and are available from a number of sources, including the "Report of the Independent Review of Disposal of Radioactive Waste in the North East Atlantic" (HMSO, 1984), copies of which are available in the Library of the House. The report contains data on the location of dumpsites, weight of material dumped, levels of activity and numbers of containers. The information on weight and numbers of containers is aggregated in the report for the whole period from 1949–82 during which the UK disposed of radioactive waste at sea. We estimate that, during the 1960s and 70s, around 41,000 tonnes were dumped in the north-east Atlantic in around 75,000 containers of various sizes and types. Radioactive waste disposals were also carried out in the north-east Atlantic by a number of other countries during this period.

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