§ Mr. Coaker
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made on the coal state aid scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mrs. Liddell
I am pleased to announce that on 26 July the UK Government formally applied to the European Commission for their approval to pay operating aid to United Kingdom coal producers over the period to July 2002. This notification follows extensive consultation by my Department with coal producers and purchasers to ensure that the scheme we are proposing meets the Government's objectives spelled out in the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry's announcement of 17 April, and complies with European regulations.
Our application to the Commission comprises an outline of our proposed scheme and a "Modernisation, Rationalisation and Restructuring Plan" as required by the European Coal and Steel Communities Treaty and subsequent decisions. These documents have been placed in the House of Commons Library.
The European Commission must now consider our proposed scheme over the next three months.