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Information Campaigns

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much her Department spent on information literature, advertising and campaign material in financial year 2001–02; if she will list the campaigns that spent over £250,000; and if she will make a statement. [70214]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: In 2001–02, the Department spent £11.688 million from its centrally held Advertising and Publicity Budget, which covers information literature, advertising and campaign material. There is additional spend from departmental programme budgets on publicity activity but this could be identified only at disproportionate cost.

It is possible, however, to list advertising campaigns drawn from all departmental budgets. Campaigns where the spend exceeded £250,000 were as follows:


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Youth

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when the EU committee for the implementation of the Community action programme concerning co-operation policy in the youth field, including European voluntary service and youth exchange within the Community and with third countries (YOUTH) is next due to meet; whether representatives of the Scottish Executive (a) have been and (b) are members of it; and if she will make a statement. [70897]

Margaret Hodge: The EU Youth Committee normally meets twice a year in June and December. As yet no date has been finalised by the European Commission for the next meeting.

The UK is represented on the committee by one official from the Joint International Unit of the Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Work and Pensions. The Scottish Executive is consulted in advance about the content of the meetings, and makes its views known, in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations.

Asylum Seekers

Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many asylum-seeking children (a) entered and (b) left school in each Government Office region, broken down by (i) age profile and (ii) the first language spoken, at the latest date for which figures are available. [69971]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: Information on the number of children of asylum seekers in schools is not collected centrally.

The Refugee Council has estimated that there are in the region of 80,000 children of asylum seekers and refugees in schools in the United Kingdom.

Overseas Visits

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the overseas trips on departmental business that have been undertaken in each of the last five years by officials in her Department; and what the (a) cost, (b) purpose and (c) result was in each case. [68732]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: All overseas travel by officials in my Department is undertaken in accordance with the principles set out in Chapter 8 of the 'Civil Service Management Code', and the detailed rules and guidance set out in the departmental 'Travel and Transfer Guide'.

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The detailed information requested about individual trips is not held centrally, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Post Office

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) post offices and (b) sub-post offices closed in Scotland in each year since 1997, broken down by local authority area. [71126]

Mr. Timms: I am informed by Post Office Ltd. that data on post office closures are not collated on a local authority area basis but will in future be collated on the basis of UK parliamentary constituencies.

I am also informed that data by country on net post office closures are not available before 1998 but that net closures in Scotland by financial year since then were as follows:

Number of closures
Year to end March 199925
Year to end March 200027
Year to end March 200163
Year to end March 200226

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her answer of 13 June 2002, Official Report, column 1388W, on the Post Office, if she will make a statement on the level of performance of first class deliveries between Wirral and London in 2001. [69779]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 17 July 2002]: Targets for the Royal Mail's scheduled services and standards are set in the licence issued by the Postal Services Commission (Postcomm) and agreed between Consignia and the Consumer Council for Postal Services (Postwatch). As the level of performance of first class deliveries between Wirral and London is a matter for the company I have asked Consignia chief executive to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures are being proposed for Post Office staff and customers to deal with (a) balance disputes, (b) lost or stolen cards and (c) lost PIN numbers for Post Office card account holders; and if she will make a statement. [70190]

Mr. Timms: These are matters which fall within the day to day responsibility of Post Office Ltd. I have therefore asked the chief executive to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Genetic Modification

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what responsibilities she holds in respect of genetic modification; how this connects with (a) DEFRA and (b) the Department of Health; and if she will make a statement. [69773]

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Ms Hewitt: DEFRA has the lead responsibility for genetic modification (GM) policy, sets the regulations concerning the deliberate release and marketing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and funds a research programme to underpin these regulatory activities. Although DTI has no formal responsibility for GM policy, it leads on competitiveness issues and sponsors the biotechnology sector. The Office of Science and Technology (OST) in the DTI supports the Chief Scientific Advisor in his oversight of transdepartmental science and technology. The OST also funds the Research Councils.

The Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission (AEBC), the Government's independent strategic advisory body on biotechnology issues affecting agriculture and the environment, advises my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the devolved Administrations, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

The Government Departments, including DEFRA, DTI, Department of Health, and the devolved Administrations and agencies work closely together to ensure a co-ordinated approach on GM. In particular, all three Departments are represented on the Ministerial Sub- Committee on Biotechnology—SCI(BIO)—whose terms of reference are


Mineworkers' Pension Funds

Jeff Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she expects to complete her review of the usage of the surpluses of the two mineworkers' pension funds. [71470]

Mr. Wilson: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for East Carmarthen and Dinefwr (Adam Price) on 18 July 2002, Official Report, column 442W.

Farm Bill

Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she is making to the US Government on the proposed Farm Bill; and if she will make a statement. [67598]

Ms Hewitt: HMG are in continual dialogue with the US Government at all levels concerning the US Farm Bill (the "Farm Security and Rural Investment Act 2002"). We have made clear to the US Government our considerable disappointment with the Farm Bill, especially in the context of the Doha Development Agenda, which committed all WTO members to substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support.

The US believes the Farm Bill is compatible with their World Trade Organisation commitments and have stressed their intention to remain fully engaged in the Doha negotiations. I will continue to strongly encourage them to do so and to put forward practical proposals to achieve the Doha commitments in agriculture.

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US Steel Tariffs

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the US steel tariffs. [69481]

Ms Hewitt: The US action is unjustified and deeply regrettable. The Government fully support the European Commission's robust response in immediately pursuing WTO action and took a lead in pressing for EU safeguard action to protect the UK and EU steel industry against diversion of trade.

We are also proactively negotiating in support of the efforts of UK companies to secure product exclusions from the US measures.


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