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10 Jul 1998 : Column WA155

Written Answers

Friday, 10th July 1998.

Clean Coal Technology

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What practical steps they are taking to facilitate the introduction of a commercial demonstration plant for clean coal technology.[HL2568]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): The Department of Trade and Industry is supporting a wide range of research and development projects specifically designed to encourage the commercial take up of clean coal technologies. The programme is undertaken in collaboration with UK industry and universities. As part of the UK Foresight programme a detailed action plan is being prepared by an industry-led task force to define with costs and timescales, a targeted research, development and demonstration programme for the clean coal power generation sector. Copies of a brochure which outlines details of the work of the industry-led task force have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.

We shall be publishing an Energy Paper setting out our new policy on clean coal technology later this Summer.

TUPE Regulations and Acquired Rights Directive

Lord Harmsworth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Following the European Court of Justice's decision in the Suzen case, what steps they intend to take to clarify the application of the TUPE Regulations on outsourcing contracts; and[HL2619]

    How they will ensure that the new TUPE Regulations applying the Acquired Rights Directive will achieve clarity and certainty on the subject of transfers of outsourced contracts.[HL2620]

Lord Clinton-Davis: The UK Presidency achieved a notable success in securing the adoption on 29 June of a revised Acquired Rights Directive. Amongst other improvements, the revised directive includes a new broad definition of a transfer of an undertaking. This draws on the European Court's judgments in Suzen and other leading cases, without relying on any of them exclusively, in order to clarify the directive's scope without in any way diminishing employees' existing rights. As we indicated in our Fairness at Work White Paper, the Government intend to amend the UK's implementing legislation, commonly known as the TUPE Regulations, in order to improve its operation. The revision of the directive gives us a much sounder basis for doing so than would otherwise have been the case.

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TUPE Regulations: Amendment

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether recent agreements at the European Social Affairs Council concerning the Acquired Rights Directive will require amendment of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981.[HL2637]

Lord Clinton-Davis: Member states have three years in which to implement the revised directive, which was formally adopted on 29 June. The Government had already indicated in the Fairness at Work White Paper that we intended to amend the UK's implementing legislation, the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981, in order to improve its operation. The revision of the directive gives us a much sounder basis for doing so than would otherwise have been the case.

Organophosphates: Review of Evidence

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to their commitment to subject every piece of available evidence on organophosphates to rigorous and transparent scrutiny, what is their estimate of the number of documents which will be scrutinised; how they have calculated that number; how they propose to make the scrutiny "transparent"; and what estimate they have made of the staff, time and budget required to fulfil their commitment.[HL2513]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): As recommended by the Official Group on OPs, the Committee on the Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT), the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP), the Veterinary Products Committee (VPC) and the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) are being asked to consider: a review by the Institute for Environment and Health Organophosphorus esters: An evaluation of chronic neurotoxic effects; and a report, which is soon to be published, by a working party of the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Royal Colleges of Psychiatrists on how clinical studies might be undertaken and how patients who attribute their ill-health to OP compounds might be managed.

A sub-group of the Committee on the Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) has been set up for this task. It is not possible to estimate how many papers will be considered by the COT sub-group because they will consider other papers as they see fit and will invite evidence from other interested parties. Since the recommendation from the Official Group on OPs was made, another review has been published. This review, Neurological syndromes of organophosphorus

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compounds by Dr. Jamal, will also be considered by the COT sub group.

The advisory committees have been asked to deliver their advice before the end of 1998.

The COT advice will be published, thus making their scrutiny transparent.

The ACP, VPC and CSM have ongoing commitments to review scientific evidence relating to their product areas, so this does not represent an extra burden on them.

Stipendiary Bench

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What responses they have received to the consultation paper Unification of the Stipendiary Bench published on 1 April 1998.[HL2699]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): Fifty-four responses have been received. I have today placed a summary of the responses in the Libraries of both Houses.

European Classification of UK Geographic Areas

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why, in the Office for National Statistics news release ONS(98)199 (29 June), Classification of United Kingdom Geographic Areas, reference is made to "the European Union's Territory" since the European Union is neither a state nor a corporate entity.[HL2546]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics, who has been asked to reply.

Letter to Lord Stoddart of Swindon from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Dr. T. Holt, dated 10 July 1998.

As Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), I have been asked to reply to your parliamentary Question regarding the news release on the European Classification of United Kingdom Geographic Areas, published on 29 June 1998.

The aim of the news release was to announce the agreement reached with Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, on the new classification. The term "European Union's territory" was used as shorthand for a description of the economic territory of the member states of the European Union, which has been defined in the Commission decision of 26 July 1991 (C(91)1574, Henning Christopherson, Vice President). I have enclosed a copy of the decision, and a copy is also available in the House of Lords Library.

Savings Tax: Proposed Directive

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 30 June (WA 61), whether, before agreeing to the proposed European Union Directive on the taxation of savings, they intend to ensure that they have the prior consent of the House of Commons for such a measure through a Finance Bill.[HL2545]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Agreement to EC legislative proposals takes place only after parliamentary scrutiny procedures have been completed. If adopted, the proposed Directive would require Parliament to pass implementing legislation before it could take effect in the UK.



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