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15 Oct 2002 : Column 689W—continued

Post Office Museum

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions her Department has held

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with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport regarding the future of the Post Office Museum; and if she will make a statement. [73341]

Mr. Timms: This is an issue for Consignia plc. No discussions have taken place.

Miners (Compensation)

Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many former miners from the north Somerset coalfield have (a) applied for and (b) received compensation awards. [73426]

Mr. Wilson: The table attached shows the number of offers and payments made for vibration white finger (VWF) and respiratory disease (COPD) in the constituencies of Somerton and Frome and Wansdyke.

VWFCOPD
Claims registered10287
Full & Final Settlements (inc. Denied/Withdrawn)465
Value of Full & Final Settlements#3,113#409,638
Offers outstanding357
Value of outstanding offers#8,646#320,149
Interim Payments made0110
Value of Interim Payments0#593,835

Note:

The Wansdyke and Somerton & Frome constituencies were defined using postcodes beginning as follows: BA2–4, BA8, BA11, BA22, BS14–15, BS30–31, BS39–40, and TA11.


Post Office Services

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which directives of the European Commission have come into effect since July 2000 reducing reserved areas, or price monopoly, of the Royal Mail and Post Office services; what consent was given by ministers at the relevant ministerial councils; and what reports were made to Parliament relating to them. [74116]

Mr. Timms: The European Postal Directive 2002/39/EC came into effect on 5 July 2002. The effect of the Directive is to reduce the upper weight/price limit, of that part of the postal market that member states may reserve to national universal service providers where necessary to maintain the universal service, from the current limit of 350 grams/5 times the basic weight first class tariff to 100g/ 3 times the basic weight first class tariff from 1 January 2003 and to 50g/ 2.5 times the basic weight first class tariff from 1 January 2006. The Directive was scrutinised and cleared by the European Committees of both Houses. The UK supported the adoption of this Directive in the Council.

Post Office Subsidiaries

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the wholly owned subsidiaries of the Post Office in (a) France, (b) Germany, (c) Austria, (d) the Netherlands, (e) Denmark and (f) Ireland and those partially owned but controlled in Sweden and the (i) cumulative losses or profits from each over the period of such holdings in these enterprises and (ii) total contributions they made to Her Majesty's Treasury. [74115]

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Mr. Timms: The wholly owned subsidiaries of Consignia plc are as follows:








The performance of these acquisitions is commercially confidential and therefore cannot be detailed here.

Prizes (Phone Calls)

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will introduce legislation to regulate the activities of companies offering cash and other prizes which can be claimed only by expensive phone calls of several minutes' duration; and if she will make a statement. [74464]

Mr. Timms: The activities of such companies are already regulated, by the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (ICSTIS), and must abide by the Code of Practice drawn up and enforced by ICSTIS. If companies breach this Code, for example by unreasonably prolonging their services, they can be fined or even banned from providing services altogether.

Pulpwood Industry

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the effect that recycling has had on the pulpwood industry over the last five years. [74571]

Mr. Wilson: The amount of recycled fibre used in the pulpwood industry in recent years has increased significantly and as a result the demand for virgin pulp has remained fairly static even though demand for paper has increased significantly.

In 1983 UK paper mills used 1.8 million tonnes of recovered fibre, rising to 4.3 million tonnes in 1996 and peaking at 4.9 million tonnes in 2000. In 2001 the 87 pulp, paper and board mills in the UK used 4.6 million tonnes of recovered fibre in producing 6.2 million tonnes of paper giving a 74 per cent. utilization rate for recovered fibre, the highest level in the EU after Spain. The growth in the use of recovered fibre has generally mirrored growth in production

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tonnages, whereas the amount of primary UK produced pulp and imported pulp used in the production of paper has remained relatively static since 1990 with between 0.5–0.6 million tonnes of UK produced pulp and between 1.6–1.7 million tonnes of imported pulp being used annually.

A voluntary agreement by the Newspaper Publishers Association to increase the recycled content of newsprint to 60 per cent. by 2001 was achieved ahead of schedule. An average 63.5 per cent. recycled content was obtained. This coupled with the targets defined in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulations 1997 (Amendment) has significantly contributed to the leading UK position. These regulations facilitated an investment of #73 million into the paper industry between 1999–2001 from the sale of Packaging Waste Recovery Notes (PRNs) and Packaging Export Recovery Notes (PERNs).

Nuclear Energy

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has for the development of nuclear energy. [74079]

Mr. Wilson: Nuclear Power currently provides about a quarter of UK's electricity supplies. Existing stations are expected to continue to contribute to the country's energy requirements and to helping limit carbon emissions provided they do so to the high safety and environmental standards currently observed.

The current energy policy consultation is considering the future role of all generation sources, including nuclear power, in delivering a future energy policy. Submissions have been requested by 13 September and we intend to issue a White Paper around the turn of the year.

Nuclear Reactors

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what plans she has for speeding up safety checks on nuclear reactors; [74080]

Mr. Wilson: I have no such plans. The day-to-day regulation of nuclear safety is a matter for the Health and Safety Executive.

Construction Materials

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the sustainable certification of the construction materials (a) stone, (b) steel and (c) timber. [74605]

Mr. Wilson: The sustainability of the built environment and the materials from which it is constructed is a key component of our Rethinking Construction strategy for the construction industry. The sustainable use of materials is dependent on a wide range of factors such as embodied energy, renewability, manufacturing process emissions, designed use, social costs, recycling, reuse and end of life disposal.

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Product sustainability certification is in its infancy, both within the UK and internationally. We are working closely with our European partners to produce sensible international standards on a whole-life costing basis.

Within the UK we have sponsored the Building Research Establishment to develop tools to quantify the environmental performance of products and processes. The result has been the introduction of the Ecopoint system that offers a basis for comparative assessment of building products and processes. This system is now being used to evaluate individual products to offer a clear, understandable indicator for product sustainability that can be applied to the fully breadth of products used in the construction industry.


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