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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: The volumes of timber harvested from English conifer forests are given in the tables below. Information on the demand for softwood by English timber users is not available, but the volume of softwood timber used in England is considerably more than the production from English forests; the balance is imported from other countries.

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Volumes of conifer timber harvested in England over the last 10 years

Calendar yearThousands of cubic metres
1995 2,575
1998(figure not yet available)

Forecast of conifer production in England in the next 20 years

Calendar yearsThousands of cubic metres per annum

Genetically Modified Foods

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a retailer offering foods which are free of genetically modified ingredients would face prosecution if minute residues of such ingredients were found in the food; and, if a prosecution was not a possibility under current rules, at what level of genetically modified content could a prosecution be brought.[HL1714]

Lord Donoughue: The EC Regulation (1139/98) on the labelling of genetically modified (GM) material derived from GM soya or maize currently sets no threshold below which an offence could not be considered to have been committed. However, a retailer who could demonstrate that he or she had taken all reasonable steps to ensure that the products that he or she was selling were correctly labelled may be able to rely on the due diligence defence allowed under the Food Safety Act 1990 should foods thought to be free of GM ingredients subsequently be found to contain them.

Oil and Fibre Plant Seed Certification

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In respect of the last 10 oil and fibre plant seeds to have received statutory certification, whether they will specify:

    (a) the date each seed was entered into the non-statutory provisional seed certification scheme;

    (b) the nature and date of each seed's first non-statutory provisional certification;

    (c) the nature and date of each seed's second non-statutory provisional certification;

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    (d) the nature and date of any subsequent non-statutory provisional certification (if any) in respect of the seed;

    (e) the date that the variety in respect of each seed was entered on the national list or common catalogue;

    (f) the nature and date of each seed's first statutory certification;

    (g) the nature and date of each seed's second statutory certification; and

    (h) the nature and date of any subsequent certification in respect of the seed.[HL1587]

Lord Donoughue: I regret that the Questions cannot be answered without incurring disproportionate cost.

Regional Industrial Assistance: Targeting

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the criteria for drawing up the areas and boundaries for Assisted Area Status and Objective 2 Status; and whether the use of (a) travel to work areas; and (b) ward boundaries; is likely to ensure that the assistance is more closely targeted to areas of high unemployment.[HL1573]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): No final decisions have been made on the criteria to be used in designating the new Assisted Areas map. The European Commission guidelines on regional aid will mean a reduction in coverage from present levels. The Government's aim is to target those areas where regional industrial assistance is both needed and an effective policy response. Using wards would be a way of enabling us to achieve this aim, and is under active consideration.

For Objective 2, the criteria in the regulations are unlikely to apply to UK areas because eligibility will be determined under the safety net which restricts loss of existing Objective 2 and 5b coverage to one-third. Member states may have some flexibility in the use of indicators to determine areas at NUTs III level and possibly below but these will have to be agreed with the Commission.

Job Creation and the Single Market

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the effect of European single market legislation upon net United Kingdom job creation figures between 1993 and 1997 in each of the three sectors of the British economy most affected by that legislation.[HL1644]

Lord Simon of Highbury: There are no meaningful figures on the effect of European single market legislation upon net UK job creation between 1993 and 1997. Overall during that period, UK employment grew

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by 1.2 million, to which the development of the single market was a contributory factor. Various calculations have been carried out on the impact of single market legislation on EU employment and all of them suggest a positive net addition to jobs. Only the scale of benefit varies--from around 300,000 to 900,000 depending on the simulation models used. More job opportunities have been accompanied by higher take home pay of 0.4 per cent. per annum as a result of the single market programme. Over the longer term, the positive effect of the single market programme on jobs may be larger yet, as rationalisation and restructuring produce leaner and fitter companies. The EU puts a high priority on increasing employment. From the Employment Action Plans drawn up following the Cardiff Summit in June 1998, it is clear that member states are making serious efforts to enhance employability, in particular that of the young, the long-term unemployed and women.

Mr. Kevin Maxwell: Proceedings

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the estimated costs of the recent proceedings before the Vice-Chancellor, the Right Hon. Sir Richard Scott, against Mr. Kevin Maxwell, including the costs of the three Queen's Counsel, two juniors and 13 departmental lawyers appearing against Mr. Maxwell.[HL1548]

Lord Simon of Highbury: The Department of Trade and Industry legal costs will be in the region of £50,000. It is not possible to provide an estimate of the inspectors' legal costs within the present time constraints. The inspectors were represented in Court by two QCs with one junior counsel in attendance. The department was represented by one leading counsel and one junior. Three in-house lawyers in the Department of Trade and Industry attended at least part of the hearing on 8, 9 and 10 February; the cost of their attendance is absorbed in their salary.

Mr. Maxwell was ordered to pay the costs of both the inspectors and the department in relation to his applications for discovery and judicial review. As the Vice Chancellor made no order in the certification proceedings, costs were awarded against the inspectors. Although Mr. Maxwell represented himself at the hearing, he has indicated that he will be claiming costs in the region of £19,000 relating to the work of the eight strong legal team advising him.

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it can be in the public interest for individuals to be subject to court proceedings without legal representation for the respondent, in circumstances comparable to the case of Kevin Maxwell.[HL1549]

Lord Simon of Highbury: Mr. Maxwell applied for judicial review of a number of decisions made by the department and the inspectors, including the decision not to contribute to the costs of this legal representation.

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On 8 February the Vice Chancellor dismissed these applications.

In his judgment of 11 March the Vice Chancellor complimented Mr. Maxwell on his ability to represent himself and said "he has not, in my opinion, suffered any disadvantage from his lack of legal representation before me".

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who authorised the expenditure on the recent court proceedings against Kevin Maxwell; and whether this expenditure will be examined by the National Audit Office to see whether this expenditure was cost or benefit effective.[HL1550]

Lord Simon of Highbury: The decision to bring the certification proceedings was a matter for the inspectors. The decision that the department should intervene was made by the previous Secretary of State. The costs were not separately authorised but flowed from those two decisions. The expenditure is chargeable to the department's appropriation account, which is subject to external audit by the National Audit Office.

Mirror Group Newspapers plc: Inquiry Report

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the report of the inspectors in the matter of the inquiry into Mirror Group Newspapers plc can now be published, and, if not, whether they will consider an interim report.[HL1551]

Lord Simon of Highbury: The inspectors have not completed their enquiries. No interim report has been prepared by them. It is important for the inspection to be completed as quickly as is possible and for a final report to be submitted. The publication of an interim report could delay the publication of a final report.

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