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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will review the procedures for the issue of a nuclear licence by the Regulator, with particular reference to defining the area within the site licence. 
Mr. Wilson [holding answer 14 January 2002]: The procedures by which HSE defines the area in which it enforces the licensing provisions of the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 (as amended) are a matter for the HSE and the Health and Safety Commission. There are no plans to change those procedures.
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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the effectiveness of the insolvency laws with particular reference to the enhanced protection of creditors from directors. 
Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 14 January 2002]: The Insolvency Act 1986 contains provisions providing effective protection for creditors against misconduct on the part of company directors. The Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 also enables us to provide effective protection from the activities of irresponsible, incompetent or rogue directors of companies that have become insolvent. Since April 2001 it has been possible to achieve disqualification by accepting undertakings as well as by court proceedings, and in the last two years over 3,000 directors have been disqualified for period of between two and 15 years on account of unfitted conduct.
Mr. Wilson [holding answer 14 January 2002]: As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry explained in her statement to the House on 28 November 2001, a Bill to set up the Liabilities Management Authority (LMA) will be brought forward at the earliest opportunity. This means that the LMA will not be established before the second half of 2003 at the earliest.
Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many complaints have been reported in her Department under paragraph 11 of the Civil Service Code since 13 May 1999; and how many of them related to special advisers. 
Ms Hewitt [holding answer 9 January 2002]: Three complaints have been reported in the Department of Trade and Industry under paragraph 11 of the Civil Service Code since 13 May 1999; none relate to special advisers.
David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the Government are doing to ensure trade union negotiation rights are given to employees in small and medium-sized enterprises. 
Alan Johnson: Unions have been awarded recognition under the statutory recognition procedure at a number of small and medium-sized businesses. Later this year, we will review the statutory recognition scheme, including its application to small employers, as part of our broader review of the Employment Relations Act 1999.
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Mr. Wilson: The Government currently have no plans to extend the current coal subsidy scheme, or to introduce a new scheme, beyond July 2002. However we are working to ensure that the new EU coal state aid regime from July this year gives us the flexibility to devise suitable schemes to aid the industry if that is ever appropriate. Once the new EU regime is in place, we will of course consider on its own merits any proposals for Government support that complies with the new rules.
We will also ensure that the new regime retains provisions to prevent subsidised coal from undercutting international prices, so that the UK coal industry cannot be disadvantaged with respect to its competitors in member states which may decide to pay continued aid.
Alan Johnson: For most small firms, the probability of an employee taking maternity leave in any given year is low. For example, survey evidence suggests that only about a tenth of workplaces with 10 or fewer employees have anyone going on maternity leave in any given year.
Small businesses can recover 100 per cent. of the statutory maternity pay they pay out plus an additional amount to compensate for any associated employers' national insurance contributions they may have paid. Some small businesses, however, may choose to offer higher levels of maternity pay and longer periods of leave as a matter of good practice. Small businesses will also face costs in covering for the absent employee. The cost to any particular business will depend on the wage paid to the pregnant employee and how the business decides to cover for the absent employee.
The Government have published a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) on the simplification of maternity leave which examines the likely costs of the changes to maternity leave which will be introduced in 2003. The RIA estimates that the total annual costs to small businesses of the increase in length of ordinary and additional maternity leave will be £23 million £43.5 million.
Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received relating to the impact of the new maternity and paternity arrangements on women employed within small businesses. 
Alan Johnson: The Government's proposals to improve maternity leave and pay and introduce paid paternity leave have been the subject of extensive public consultation. These measures were put forward in the Green Paper "Work and Parents: Competitiveness and Choice" (published December 2000) to which we received over 600 formal responses. Further responses were received following the publication of framework documents in May 2001 outlining the operation of the schemes. During the public consultation period we received responses from individual employers of all sizes, employer representative groups including those specifically representing small employers, parents, and employee representative groups.
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There was strong support from employers and employees for the proposals to simplify maternity rights and introduce paid paternity leave. The Government Response on simplification of maternity leave, paternity leave and adoption leave which was published on 8 November 2001, sets out the decisions the Governmentinformed by the consultation processhas taken. Copies of all responses are available for consultation on request in the DTI Library.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her definition is of a weak employment tribunal case; and what evidence she has considered on (a) the incidence of such cases in the system and (b) the incidence of cases being settled very close to a hearing. 
A working definition was used for the Regulatory Impact Assessment accompanying the Employment Bill based on the advice given to applicants, namely that a weak case was one where applicants had been advised by a solicitor or non-legal adviser that they would lose the case if it went to a hearing.
Data on the advice given to applicants are available from the 1998 Survey of Employment Tribunal Applications. This suggests that there were between 2 and 4 per cent. of applications where the case either went to a hearing, was withdrawn within two weeks of the hearing date, or dismissed or disposed of in some other way and where the applicant was advised that they would lose the case at hearing (either by a solicitor or by a non-legal organisation such as a Citizens Advice Bureaus or a trade union). A range is given because not all applicants sought advice and, in some cases, conflicting advice was given by different sources. Applying these percentages to the 200001 level of applications would imply between 2,600 and 5,200 such cases.
This measure is based on cases where the applicant was advised they would lose the case at a hearing. In some of these cases, the tribunal may have upheld the application. On the other hand, these estimates do not include cases where there was a weak defence.
(b) Information on settlements does not identify cases which settle "close to the hearing date". Three quarters of cases settle or withdraw before the hearing, and ACAS conciliation leads to settlement in 38 per cent. of cases.
Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she will publish the consultancy report on the feasibility of a sub-sea cable on the western seaboard of the British mainland. 
Mr. Wilson [holding answer 14 January 2002]: The report is expected shortly and we propose to publish it soon after it has been received. Decisions about further action will be taken in the light of the report's conclusions.
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