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Family Friendly Employers

Ms Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of mothers from low-income households work for employers with a policy of allowing employees to reduce their hours on return from maternity leave. [150108]

Mr. Alan Johnson: A survey of working parents recently conducted by my Department asked mothers whether a number of support provisions were made available to them by their employer on return from maternity leave, including returning to the same job on a reduced hours or part-time basis.

83 per cent. of mothers in households with gross income of less than £20,800 said that their employer allowed them to return to the same job on a reduced hours or part-time basis, compared with 60 per cent. of those in households with gross income of £20,800 plus.

Ms Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of fathers work for employers who allow them to reduce their hours in (a) the aftermath of the birth of a child and (b) for general childcare reasons. [150110]

Mr. Alan Johnson: A survey commissioned by the Department for Education and Employment in 2000 reports that 34 per cent. of fathers in workplaces employing five or more staff said that their employer would allow them to reduce their hours for an agreed period of time at reduced salary.

Enterprise, Skills and Innovation

Mr. Pound: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans the Government have to support enterprise, skills and innovation. [150126]

Mr. Byers: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment and I are today publishing "Opportunity for All in a World of Change: A White Paper on Enterprise, Skills and Innovation" (Cm 5052). Copies will be laid in the Libraries of the House and will be available in the Vote Office

The White Paper unveils the Government's active industrial policy to help people and businesses in all regions prosper in our fast-changing world, and sets out the Government's action plan for the future. It sets out the Government's next steps for raising GDP in the regions,

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closing the skills gap, supporting industry through restructuring and nurturing new industries as they develop.

University Innovation Centres and Technology Institutes

The measures include a major new drive to create hubs for growth in the regions based on imaginative new partnerships between universities, colleges and businesses. World-class university innovation centres will be established in England. The first five are announced today involving companies such as BAE and Proctor and Gamble in the north-east and Hewlett Packard in Bristol. New technology institutes will be developed in each region to boost the supply of ICT and other high-tech skills and transfer of know-how to SMEs. This new network will produce a step change in the capacity of regions and communities to grow new dynamic businesses and high-tech employment. The involvement of colleges will ensure skills and know how are cascaded into the wider community.

A new regional policy

The Government's goal is to increase the rate of growth in all regions, addressing underperformance and building on success. Raising the trend rate of growth by 0.5 per cent. for the worst-performing regions would increase GDP in 10 years by £20 billion. The measures include:

The Government inherited a situation of poor standards in schools and neglect of skills. Much has been done to tackle these problems. The goal now is to ensure all our people have the skills they need to be enterprising and creative and to deliver the world beating technical skills business needs. The measures include:

The Government's goal is to strengthen the ability of British business to innovate, ensuring that Britain has a world-class ICT infrastructure and promoting the exploitation of scientific advances by business.

Initiatives include:

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Companies (EU Political Expenditure)

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many United Kingdom companies he anticipates will be covered by article 3(1) of the Companies (EU Political Expenditure) Exemption Order 2001. [149925]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 12 February 2001]: The draft Companies (EU Political Expenditure) Order 2001 seeks to exclude activities such as the publication of newspapers from the definition of "political expenditure" under Part IX of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, while at the same time ensuring that the principles of accountability and transparency are properly applied in relation to political donations and expenditure by companies. The draft order would exempt any company or subsidiary undertaking whose ordinary course of business includes the preparation, publication or dissemination to the public of material such as views, opinion and comment on the news, or on public or political affairs and events, from the requirement to seek prior shareholder authorisation in respect of such activities; it would not exempt such companies from the requirement to seek prior shareholder authorisation for donations to political parties and organisations or for other forms of political expenditure.

The order has been drafted so as to take account of possible future technological advances, and the Department does not have detailed information on the number of companies which will come within the exemption. The Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents national daily and Sunday newspapers, has eight members. The database of The Newspaper Society, which represents the regional newspaper industry, indicates that there are currently 106 regional press publishers.

Mortgage Code Compliance Board

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what response his Department has made to the most recent annual report of the Mortgage Code Compliance Board. [149838]

Dr. Howells: I have not made a response to this report.

Workplace Bullying

Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action his Department is taking to (a) tackle and (b) raise awareness of the incidence of workplace bullying. [149992]

Mr. Alan Johnson: Bullying has no place in today's work environment and is unacceptable wherever it occurs.

Legislation exists to protect workers from the most serious kinds of bullying, for instance under the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974. Laws also cover harassment and discrimination on the grounds of sex, race and disability.

Non-legislative methods currently available include the adoption of best practice and the dissemination of guidance to employers, employees and their representatives i.e. the ACAS 'Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures'.

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The Government's partnership strategy is based on co-operation and good communication between employers and employees, which should result in a more constructive relationship in the workplace.

The DTI's partnership at work fund provides £5 million over a four-year period to help projects develop better employment practices within the workplace. The third round will see bullying as one of its areas of particular interest.

Miners' Compensation

Mr. Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many ex-miners from (a) Barnsley and (b) Doncaster claiming compensation for chronic bronchitis and emphysema have died before their claims were fully processed. [149631]

Mr. Hain: IRISC, the Department's claims handlers, have been informed of 10 claimants in the Barnsley area who, sadly, died before their claims were fully processed, and 14 claimants in the Doncaster region.

In all these cases, the claim will be continued by the claimants' widow or dependants. In addition, where a claimant's death certificate shows that one of the respiratory disease conditions for which British Coal was found liable either caused or materially contributed to the death, the Department will also make a bereavement award to the claimant's widow.

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