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Fair Trading Act

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, (1) pursuant to her answer of 25 March 2002, Official Report, column 696W, if she will place in the Library details of her Department's strategy and procedures for enforcing the regulatory controls under Part XI of the Fair Trading Act 1973 and its amendments; and if she will make a statement; [50467]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 16 April 2002]: Where a breach of legislation over which the Department has oversight is identified, and that breach is addressed by way of criminal sanction, the Department will consider bringing a prosecution, taking account of the evidential and public interest tests set out in the Code of Crown Prosecutors.

The Department is unable to give legal advice about individual schemes in response to inquires from the public. The circumstances of individual schemes will vary. Individuals are advised that they should seek independent and impartial business and legal advice on a scheme prior to signing any agreement.

All trading schemes within the scope of current legislation are expected to comply with the regulatory controls. Whether and how the regulatory controls apply will depend on the operation of the individual scheme. In particular, in order to establish whether a scheme is a

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"single-tier" scheme for the purpose of the legislation, a detailed assessment is required of the characteristics of the scheme in question.

The effect of the legislation is that, if all participants in a scheme are not making taxable supplies in the UK and not registered for VAT, the regulatory controls would apply. The issue of when to register for VAT purposes is a matter to be determined by reference to revenue legislation.

Non-departmental Public Bodies

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the cost in 2001–02 was of the pay increase to staff in her Department, agencies and the non-departmental public bodies for which she is responsible; and what the cost of the forthcoming increase will be in 2002–03. [50417]

Ms Hewitt: The costs of pay awards for the 2001–02 pay years for each of the DTI organisations are estimated in the table. It is not possible to cost the awards more precisely since the increases in organisational paybill are also affected during the period over which they are paid by other factors including promotions and other staff moves.


DTI organisationsCost of pay award
Department of Trade and Industry4,300,000
Companies House650,000
Employment Tribunal Service620,000
Insolvency Service960,000
Patent Office1,100,000
Radiocommunications Agency890,000
Non-departmental Public Bodies
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council2,300,000
Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils2,000,000
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council240,000
Natural Environment Research Council1,600,000
Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council220,000
Economic and Social Research Council74,000
Medical Research Council3,100,000
Advantage West Midlands200,000
East Midlands Development Agency130,000
East of England Development Agency120,000
North West Development Agency370,000
One North East330,000
South East of England Development Agency190,000
South West of England Regional Development Agency220,000
Yorkshire Forward210,000
Coal Authority£110,000
Design Council£60,000
Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service£1,500,000


Equivalent figures are not yet available for the 2002–03 pay years.

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Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what the cost was to her Department of answering written parliamentary questions in 2001; and how that cost was calculated; [49113]

Ms Hewitt: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, Official Report, column 929W.

Departmental Report

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the 2002 departmental report will be published. [49595]

Ms Hewitt: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 15 April 2002, Official Report, column 774W.

Part-time Employees

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many and what proportion of the staff of her Department are part-time employees. [47169]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 10 April 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 10 April 2002, Official Report, column 49W by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office.

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Race Equality

Mr. Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will bring forward the Commission for Racial Equality's draft statutory code of practice on the duty to promote race equality. [51717]

Angela Eagle: Yesterday I laid before Parliament the Commission for Racial Equality's draft statutory code of practice on the duty to promote race equality.

The code of practice will offer practical guidance to public authorities on how to meet their duty to promote race equality. Once the code of practice is brought into effect it will be admissible in evidence in any legal action, and a court or tribunal should take relevant provisions of the code into account.

United Nations Convention on the Child

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the reasons why he rejected the conclusions set out in the legal opinion obtained by Save the Children UK on the United Kingdom's Immigration Reservation to the United Nations Convention on the Child. [48659]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 17 April 2002]: We have carefully reviewed the reservation in the light of the legal opinion submitted by Save the Children and other recent requests that it should be withdrawn. We have taken legal advice which strongly suggests that the reservation remains necessary in order to maintain an effective immigration control. We consider that, not withstanding the reservation, there are sufficient checks and balances in place to ensure that children are protected.

The United Kingdom always takes its international obligations seriously. We are obliged, under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, to consider all applications for asylum made in the United Kingdom. Each application is considered on its individual merits. While awaiting a decision on their claims, all asylum seeking children have access to primary health care and education facilities and there are currently no outstanding cases where the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has been cited by children seeking asylum here. The majority of asylum seeking children are, of course, accompanied by their families.

We fully appreciate the potential vulnerability of unaccompanied children and the distress they may experience while awaiting a decision on their asylum claims. The need for anxious scrutiny is stressed in training and guidance to all staff involved in the asylum decision making process. Because of the particular sensitivities surrounding applications from unaccompanied children, their cases are given priority and dealt with by specially trained caseworkers, who are provided with comprehensive instructions setting out areas to consider when dealing with such applications. These instructions are available on the Internet and are reviewed on a regular basis.

All unaccompanied minors who apply for asylum are referred to the Refugee Council's Panel of Advisers, a non-statutory body which acts as adviser to the child in his/her dealings with the Home Office and other agencies

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for the duration of the asylum claim. Unaccompanied minors are not entitled to benefits but are supported under the Children Act 1989 (maintenance and accommodation being provided by social services departments of the local authorities). It has been agreed that no unaccompanied child will be removed from the United Kingdom unless we are satisfied that adequate reception and care arrangements are in place in the country to which he/she is to be removed. If care arrangements cannot be established, the child is normally allowed to remain here exceptionally, outside the Immigration Rules, on compassionate grounds.

For these reasons, we do not accept the recommendation made in the legal opinion forwarded by Save the Children.

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