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Royal Prerogative

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what decisions have been made by his Department in the last year under authority from the Royal Prerogative. [63130]

Mr. MacShane: I refer the hon. Member to the answers given to my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) on 6 December 2001, Official Report, column 467W, and to the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker) on 15 October 2001, Official Report, column 967W, to which I have nothing further to add.

Subcontinent (Land Mines)

Mr. Pound: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Governments of India and Pakistan concerning the deployment of land mines on their shared border. [62103]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We deplore the use of anti- personnel landmines. Although no recent representations have been made since 1998, when the United Kingdom became a State Party to the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, we have lobbied all states non-party, whether users of anti-personnel landmines or not, to ratify the convention.

Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of unrest in Gujarat on relations between India and Pakistan. [62119]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We assess there to be no direct link between the recent unrest in Gujarat and relations between India and Pakistan.

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Mr. Allan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received concerning the financial situation at KPNQwest and the possible shutdown of its Ebone network; what effect she estimates this may have on internet users; and if she will make a statement. [64321]

Mr. Timms: I have not received any representations regarding the possible shutdown of KPNQwest's network, although officials in the Department and at Oftel are watching developments closely.

Some UK ISPs and websites may use KPNQwest for their connection to the internet. Loss of KPNQwest would not necessarily mean complete loss of internet access as major ISPs are likely to have more than one supplier of internet connectivity. It is possible however that access to some websites would be slowed down until traffic were fully rerouted via other networks.

There is a competitive market for internet connectivity, meaning that ISPs and websites should be able readily to obtain internet connectivity from other suppliers, if they have not already done so, since they were advised by KPNQwest to make contingency arrangements on 30 May.

Post Office

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much was spent, broken down (a) by consulting firm and (b) by project, on A6, Post Office consultancy and other expenditure related to the Post Office, as stated in Annex b in the Trade and Industry Government Expenditure plans for 2000–01; and if she will make a statement. [63545]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 21 June 2002]: Payments to individual consultants are commercially confidential. The firms that advised Government were:

An independent legal adviser also provided a limited amount of legal advice.

The amount paid for advice per project is as follows 1 :

£ million
Assessment of strategic options, acquisitions and alliances for the mails business1.75
Assessment of strategic options for the Post Office Network (including Universal Bank and Your Guide)0.99
Advice on implementation of the Postal Services Act0.22
Other (including project co-ordination, expenses and unallocated costs)0.10

(3) These figures should be seen as indicative as there was some cross over between projects.


Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her oral statement of 13 June 2002, Official Report, column 1022, on Consignia, whether the provisions of the sixth VAT directive exempting public postal services from VAT apply to all licensed postal operators; and if she will make a statement. [63504]

John Healey: I have been asked to reply.

The UK VAT exemption for public postal services applies only to the Post Office company and its wholly owned subsidiaries, such as Consignia plc, providing the public postal service.

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Sub-post Offices

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many sub-post offices in Scotland have changed proprietor in each of the last five years. [62417]

Mr. Timms: This is a matter which falls within the day-to-day responsibility of Consignia and I have asked the Chief Executive to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Royal Prerogative

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what decisions have been made by her Department in the last year under authority from the Royal Prerogative. [63137]

Ms Hewitt: Records are not kept of the individual occasions on which powers under the Royal Prerogative are exercised, nor could it be practicable to do so.

Trade Subsidies

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what support schemes are available from the European Union for small and medium-sized enterprises in Britain; how much funding is available; and what proportion of this funding has been taken up by small firms in the last three years. [60499]

Nigel Griffiths: The primary source of European Union support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the United Kingdom is the European Structural Funds. For the funding period 2000–06 the UK has been allocated approximately £10 billion from these funds.

The priorities for this funding were the subject of negotiation with the Commission which resulted in a number of agreed programming documents being approved during 2000 and 2001. Expenditure under the programmes can be undertaken until 2008.

Since each document was drawn up and negotiated on the basis of the needs of the area concerned, the way in which support for SMEs is addressed varies between programmes. Although each programme includes a number of activities which involve either direct or indirect support to SMEs, the funding under the programmes is not disaggregated in a way that enables the amounts available or spent only for the benefit of SMEs to be easily identified, and it would involve disproportionate cost to provide this information.

Radioactive Materials

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures are in place to protect radioactive materials already in the United Kingdom that could be used to build a dirty bomb. [62709]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 19 June 2002]: Nuclear materials on licensed civil nuclear sites and in transport are subject to rigorous regulatory requirements set, and monitored by, the Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS). Nuclear power generators comply with the Nuclear Generating Station (Security) Regulations 1996, made under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Other sites comply with Directions made under the Atomic Energy Act 1954 and the Nuclear Installations Act 1965. All civil nuclear material in the UK is subject to Euratom

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safeguards and to the terms of the UK/Euratom/IAEA Safeguards Agreement. Radioactive material, in accordance with the Radioactive Substances Act 1993, requires a certificate of registration from the Environment Agency or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. The certificates impose responsibilities in respect of security and general management. In addition, the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 require employers to have in place appropriate accounting procedures. The regulatory bodies carry out regular programmes of inspections to ensure compliance and would not hesitate to take enforcement action were there a failure to comply with regulatory requirements.

Small Rural Businesses

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent steps her Department has taken to support small rural business. [63528]

Nigel Griffiths: The DTI and the Small Business Service (SBS) are supporting rural business in a number of ways.

The Development Fund for Rural Renewal, part of the Phoenix Fund, is supporting 20 projects with grants totalling £3 million. These projects aim to help rural business communities that have been affected by foot and mouth.

The Business Link network provides services to all small businesses including small rural business and some have specific programmes targeted on this sector. The SBS is pulling together examples of good practice in helping small rural businesses to assist Business Link operators in this work.

The Business Link website,, is being enhanced to include specific advice on rural issues and signposting the others who are also able to assist rural businesses.

There are many other activities taking place at local and regional level, many in co-operation with regional development agencies.

SBS has recently published research on "Encouraging and Supporting Enterprise in Rural Areas" and will be looking to use the results of this research in discussion with others active in supporting rural businesses.

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