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31 Oct 2002 : Column 984W—continued

Iraq (Exports)

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what British exports of material and technology capable of being used in biological weapons production were made to Iraq since 1972; and how many export licences were (a) granted and (b) rejected in respect of such material and technology over this period. [75867]

Nigel Griffiths: The Department of Trade and Industry's Export Control Organisation records details of all relevant export licences granted and rejected. Since 2 May 1997 these are published in the Government's Annual Reports on Strategic Export Controls. Copies of the 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 annual reports are available in the Libraries of the House.

Previous administrations have not considered it appropriate to publish information on individual licensing decisions. Information on export licences granted and rejected since 1972, where the end users were in Iraq, is not held centrally and a manual search of all the case files would incur disproportionate costs.

The Government are well aware of the special risks that exist in relation to weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and for this reason gives extremely careful scrutiny to applications that involve potential WMD concerns. A very wide range of items with otherwise entirely legitimate applications can have a potential use in connection with WMD. The Government will not issue an export licence where there is an unacceptable risk of diversion to a WMD programme of concern.

Israel

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her Department's policy is regarding the export of arms to Israel. [77054]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I have been asked to reply.

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All relevant export licence applications are rigorously assessed on a case by case basis against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria, taking account of the circumstances prevailing at the time and other announced Government policies. Our criteria clearly set out our commitment to take account of the risk that exports might be used for internal repression or external aggression. The outbreak of the intifada, continued Israeli incursions in the Occupied Territories and the Israeli breach of its assurance that UK originated equipment would not be used in the Occupied Territories have all been factored in to the Government's current export licensing policy. The UK arms trade with Israel is tiny.

Job Losses

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make it her Department's policy to collect statistics on the number of jobs lost from the UK to other countries. [76396]

Ms Hewitt: There are significant practical and conceptual difficulties in measuring the process of job creation and job destruction and attributing cause and effect. At this stage, we have no plans to collect figures in this area. However, my Department will continue to monitor where possible, the location and relocation decisions of UK and foreign companies as part of our ongoing programme of work on productivity and competitiveness.

Liabilities Management Authority

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether (a) restrictions and (b) exclusions will apply to the nationality of the licensees contracted by the Liabilities Management Authority to manage (i) individual and (ii) multiple sites. [77296]

Ms Hewitt: UK and overseas companies will be able to bid for contracts, reflecting the Government's determination to draw on the best available skills in managing and disposing of nuclear waste. However, contracts will only be awarded to companies satisfying regulatory and security requirements relevant to the site or sites concerned.

NPower

Mr. David Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many complaints she has received about the operation of npower. [77856]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 29 October 2002]: I have received a number of representations about npower and other gas and electricity suppliers. Statutory responsibility for investigating complaints from consumers who have been unable to obtain a satisfactory response from their supplier lies with the Gas and Electricity Consumer Council (Energywatch). Energywatch publishes complaints statistics on website at [email protected] The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM) monitors the sales activities of energy suppliers, and may take investigative and enforcement action against any supplier that breaches the terms of its supply licence.

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Parcelforce

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations she has received from businesses and individuals about the services operated by Parcelforce; and if she will make a statement. [77478]

Mr. Timms: Services operated by Parcelforce are an operational matter for the company. Recent representations I have received on behalf of businesses concerning these matters have therefore been passed on to Consignia plc for attention. I answered an adjournment debate yesterday on a representation raised with me by the hon. Member for Guildford (Sue Doughty).

Redundant Building Grant Scheme

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been (a) applied for and (b) spent through the Redundant Building Grant Scheme in (i) 2000–01, (ii) 2001–02 and (iii) 2002–03 to date, broken down by county. [78388]

Alun Michael: I have been asked to reply.

Following the introduction of the Regional Development Agencies' single budget arrangements last April they are no longer obliged to operate former Rural Development Programme schemes such as the Redundant Building Grant. The Department has not collected this information since 2000–01, when expenditure was estimated at approximately #2.8m. Figures for individual counties have never been collected centrally.

RICD Fund

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been (a) applied for and (b) spent through the Regional Innovation and Competitiveness Development fund by rural local authorities in (i) 2000–01, (ii) 2001–02 and (iii) 2002–03 to date. [78402]

Alan Johnson: In 2000–01 the Competitiveness Development Fund (CDF) provided a funding stream from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to the nine English Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) to spend on priorities they identified for increasing competitiveness in their regions. The RDAs were allocated CDF of #9.7 million in 2000–01.

In 2001–02, the CDF was subsumed within the department's Regional Innovation Fund (RIF), which ran for one financial year before itself being subsumed within the 'Single Pot' financial arrangements applying to RDAs from 2002–03. The RIF similarly provided a funding stream to the RDAs, which was designed to enable them to support regional competitiveness, innovation and enterprise, and to support cluster development and business incubation in their regions. #54.1 million of RIF funding was allocated by DTI to the RDAs for this purpose.

The RDAs' use of Government funding is described in their audited annual reports and accounts. These are laid before Parliament each year before the summer recess

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Sensors Technology

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much financial assistance has been given to the sensors technology, through the LINK sensors for industrial applications programme in each of the last five years; what support is planned in the next two years; when the programme is next due to report; what assessment has taken place of the effectiveness of the programme; whether the programme has a website; and if she will make a statement. [78264]

Ms Hewitt: Financial support under the LINK Sensors and Sensor Systems for Industrial Applications Programme for the last five years was as follows:

YearSpend #k
1997–98244
1998–99727
1999–20001,187
2000–011,343
2001–021,237

Predicted spend for 2002–03 and 2003–04 is #1,300k and #1,000k respectively. Further support for sensors technology will be available under the new LINK Basic Technologies for Industrial Applications Programme, which was announced by my noble Friend, the Minister for Science and Innovation on 26 July 2002.

The next progress report to the LINK Directorate on the Programme is due in October 2003. Progress on the programme and individual projects is monitored continuously, but it is too early to carry out a full evaluation of the effectiveness of the programme as only a few projects have been completed and are now moving towards commercial exploitation. However, the research has already given rise to 80 refereed scientific papers and 12 patent applications. Two seminars have been held at which progress on projects has been reported. The programme website address is: www.dti.gov.uk/sensors. I have no plans to make a statement about this programme.


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