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Sub-post Offices

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what training is available to new entrants to the sub-post office network (a) prior to them taking on a business, and (b) following the acquisition and start of that business with respect to funding by her Department. [52328]

Mr. Alexander [holding answer 26 April 2002]: Training sub-postmasters is a management matter for Post Office Ltd. The small business service and business links are open to the business community including sub-postmasters.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions she has had with the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters. [52327]

Mr. Alexander [holding answer 26 April 2002]: I met Colin Baker, the General Secretary of the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters on 24 April.

Motor Accident Repairs

Mr. Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many complaints have been received by the Office of Fair Trading concerning the motor accident repair market since January 2001. [52243]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The OFT compiles figures on the number of consumer complaints received by trading standards departments in the UK.

19,588 complaints were received between 1 January and 30 September 2001. Later figures are not yet available.

Supermarkets

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if she will make a statement on how each of the points in the OFT's letter of remedy on supermarket/supplier relations is met in the code of practice issued in October 2001; [52931]

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Miss Melanie Johnson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced on 18 December 2001 that, following an adverse report by the Competition Commission under the Fair Trading Act 1973, she had accepted undertakings from the four main supermarket chains that they would abide by a Code of Practice concerning their relations with their suppliers.

Normally undertakings are negotiated by the Director General of Fair Trading with the parties who will be asked to sign them; there is no third party involvement. Exceptionally, at the recommendation of the Competition Commission, supplier organisations were in this case given the opportunity to comment on a draft.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry received around 35 representations on the Code before it was issued on 18 December, and around five afterwards.

The Code came into force on 17 March 2002. The Director General of Fair Trading will monitor the operation of the Code.

Motor Body Repairers

Mr. Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many insurance company-owned motor body shop repairers there are in England and Wales. [53065]

Miss Melanie Johnson: This information is not collected by the Department. However, according to data collected by the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMIF), there are 21 insurance company owned motor body shop repairers in England and Wales.

Mr. Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many independent motor body repairers there were in England and Wales in each year since 1997. [53064]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The information required is as follows:

YearNumber
199712,700
199811,300
199910,000
20008,000
20016,500
20025,800


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Golden Jubilee

Mr. Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the number of employees who will not receive payment for the forthcoming Queen's Golden Jubilee bank holiday. [53339]

Alan Johnson: The autumn 2001 Labour Force Survey indicates that 17 per cent. of workers are not paid for bank holidays generally. There are no specific estimates covering the Queen's Golden Jubilee bank holiday.

TRIPs Agreement

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what plans there are to revise the WTO TRIPs agreement to allow staple food crops to be patented; [53354]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The TRIPs agreement allows the Governments of WTO member states to decide for themselves whether to allow the patenting of plants in their own countries. However, the agreement does require WTO member states to protect plant varieties by other legal means if patents are not available. The UK supports this flexibility in the agreement and there are no plans to remove it.

The TRIPs agreement also confirms the internationally established principle that it is not possible to be granted a valid patent for something which is already known. According to this principle, neither traditional varieties of staple food crops nor related traditional knowledge can be patentable in themselves, even in countries where the patenting of plants is allowed.

EU Trade

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of the United Kingdom's (a) visible and (b) invisible imports come from the European Union; and what their value was in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [51621]

Ms Hewitt: According to information published by the Office for National Statistics on 27 March 2002, in 2001 the EU accounted for 52 per cent. of UK imports of goods and 53 per cent. of UK imports of services. UK imports of goods from the EU were worth £115.5 billion while UK imports of services from the EU were worth £34.5 billion.

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportions of the United Kingdom's (a) visible and (b) invisible exports go to the European Union; and what their value was in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [51620]

Ms Hewitt: According to information published by the Office for National Statistics on 27 March 2002, in 2001 the EU accounted for 58 per cent. of UK exports of goods and 40 per cent. of UK exports of services. UK exports of goods to the EU were worth £110.8 billion while UK exports of services to the EU were worth £31.0 billion.

EU Structural Funds

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proposals the Government are putting

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to the European Commission on structural funds in the European Union for its third report on structural funds. [51624]

Alan Johnson: The Government have not yet put any formal proposals to the European Commission for its Third Report on Economic and Social Cohesion, which is not due to be published until late 2003 or early 2004. However, from my statement at the Namur Informal Council on Regional Policy in July 2001, the Commission will be aware of the Government's view that the next reform of the Structural Funds must ensure that they contribute better to the Lisbon agenda of improving Europe's competitiveness and modernising its economies. Improvements are needed in both the effectiveness of the funds and the means to evaluate their impact and added value. Also, greater efforts must be made to simplify the funds and remove unnecessary bureaucracy, while maintaining proper financial control.

EU Enlargement

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans the Government have to inform (a) business and (b) the public about the implications of EU enlargement for the United Kingdom. [51622]

Ms Hewitt: EU enlargement is vital to the future peace, prosperity and strength of Europe and will directly benefit the British public and business. My Department has published papers on EU enlargement for British business, such as "EU Enlargement and the Single Market: Opportunities for Business" published in September 2000, which focused both on the enlargement process and the commercial opportunities. I have placed a copy in the Libraries of the House. As well as regular contacts between my officials and business players, we are planning, in conjunction with the FCO, an expanded programme of activities for 2002, including speaking events, newsletters and a new enlargement section on DTI's website.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office lead on the wider public diplomacy strategy, aimed at informing the British public about EU enlargement. They provide general information on enlargement through publications like "Britain: A Champion of EU Enlargement", their website and by providing speakers for and organising events.


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