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Departmental Policies (Stroud)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the constituency, the effects on the Stroud constituency of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [152400]

Mr. Caborn [holding answer 6 March 2001]: Since May 1997 my Department has introduced and developed a variety of initiatives in my hon. Friend's constituency. These include the competitiveness development fund, which has supported two projects close to Stroud. This fund is provided to the South West regional development

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agency. It includes funding for the regional development agency's south west innovation fund which supports research and development projects for small and medium- sized enterprises.

One company which has benefited is IONEX--a small water treatment company where a grant of £3,000 was given to continue to develop electro catalytic electrodes for the reduction of nitrate to nitrogen and oxygen. Another company, Primrose Bumble, received a grant of £2,250 to help with the development of a spelling aid for dyslexic individuals.

The constituency's small business community has also benefited from several smart awards and the local business link facilitated 95 business start-ups in the year 2000.

The Department's funds have also benefited the Stroud energy group, an environmental group who advise on renewable energy and ways to improve environmental awareness. £200K in total has been given to the project's publicity funds.

The Gloucestershire market towns scheme is an single regeneration budget (SRB) scheme which is active within the Stroud DC area. This covers seven Gloucestershire market towns, including Stroud, Dursley/Cam. This was a successful SRB round 4 bid in 1998 which secured over £1 million of Government funding. It is a five-year scheme which is designed to tackle social deprivation issues in all of the seven identified market towns. This SRB scheme has been providing very useful input into SWRDA's region wide new market/coastal towns initiative which is due to be launched at the end of March 2001.

Gloucestershire-wide initiatives which may have impacted on the Stroud constituency are:

The Gloucestershire Development Agency, West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF) and Automotive Centres Excellence (ACE) the RDA partnership, which is committed to supporting the Aerospace and Automotive sectors, with approximately £80,000 being provided in 2000-01 to strengthen the businesses in the supply chains of these industries, primarily through networking and mapping exercises.

The £200,000 which has been used to support the development of the Gloucestershire Innovation Centre which will be located at the former Bank of England site at Gloucester Docks. This centre will be of benefit to fledgling businesses in the Gloucester area who will be able to access business mentoring and state of the art facilities. This centre will be part of the regional Business Incubation South West network.

The £45,000 that has been given for the development and improvement of the business focussed research facility at Gloucester Royal Infirmary, in partnership with Cranfield University and Gloucester City Council for 2000-01. This facility will benefit medi-science businesses in the area, who will have access to these facilities.

Computer Failures

Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list those commercial companies he has been in contact with in the last 24 months regarding computer disaster contingency programmes. [152548]

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Ms Hewitt: Over the past two years, officials from my Department have been in contact with a number of organisations to discuss security of information and ways of ensuring that the information is available after a disaster. The need for such contingency planning has been highlighted by the "I love you" bug and other computer viruses which have affected the operations of many companies around the world.

My Department encourages all organisations to implement ISO/IEC 17799/BS7799, the code of practice for information security management standard. This standard promotes the use of risk assessment and putting appropriate security controls in place before embarking on decisions which would involve losses or damage of an organisation. This includes business continuity management and information security education and training.

Employment Compensation

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will introduce compensation for workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. [152695]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The redundancy and insolvency payments provisions of the Employment Rights Act 1996 provide a safety net of minimum entitlements for employees who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. The limits on payments under these provisions are subject to annual uprating. Employers and employees (or their representatives) are free to negotiate more favourable severance conditions than the statutory provisions require, if this accords with their own priorities, needs and circumstances. In most cases this is in fact what happens. The Government have no plans for any amendments to the law in this regard.

Businesses (London)

Ms Harman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many business failures there were in each of the last 15 years in London. [152190]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 8 March 2001]: The table shows compulsory liquidations and bankruptcies in London for the years 1991 to 2000. The County court allocates an Official Receiver and it is the location of the Official Receiver's office that is recorded, not the location of the business. Official Receiver's offices do not coincide with Government office regions. April 1991 is the earliest available record of regional insolvencies.

Insolvencies in London

YearCompany compulsory liquidationsIndividual bankruptcy orders(8)
1991(9)2,0371,649
19923,2682,954
19932,4982,859
19941,7032,245
19951,5741,895
19961,2211,714
19979371,345
19981,4871,374
19991,1611,286
20009511,285

(8) Individual Bankruptcy Orders includes the following categories: Self employed; Employees; No occupation and unemployed; Directors and promoters of companies; Occupation unknown.

(9) 1991 only available from Q2

Source:

DTI


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Ms Harman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many new businesses opened in London in (a) 1996 and (b) in the last year for which figures are available. [152191]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 8 March 2001]: Official statistics for new business openings are reflected in VAT registrations. There were 34,055 VAT registrations of London businesses in 1996 and 37,335 in 1999, the last year for which figures are available.

Post Offices

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the agreement between the Post Office and the banks over the future of the universal bank will be signed; and if he will make a statement. [153027]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 9 March 2001]: Discussions with the banks are at an advanced stage.

Motor Fuel

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will ask the Office of Fair Trading to investigate the pricing of motor fuel. [153288]

Dr. Howells: Under UK competition legislation, the Director-General of Fair Trading is responsible for monitoring markets and considering allegations of anti- competitive behaviour.

The Director-General has investigated the supply of petrol a number of times over recent years and has found it to be competitive. He has said that he will continue to monitor this market very closely.

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to require suppliers to display the level of duty payable on petrol and diesel on pumps at petrol forecourts. [153250]

Mr. Hain: Fuel duty rates are well known, and I have no plans to require retailers to display them.

Working Time Regulations

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answer of 5 March 2001, Official Report, column 43W, what recent representations he has received on the adequacy of specialist working time officer availability. [152969]

Mr. Alan Johnson: I am not aware of any recent representations made to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry or myself on the adequacy of specialist working time officer availability.

Departmental Policies (Hemsworth)

Mr. Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly to the locations as possible, the effects

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of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997 on (a) Hemsworth constituency and (b) Wakefield district. [153004]

Mr. Caborn: The Department has provided the following support for businesses in Wakefield since May 1997. Information at constituency level is not available in all cases.

Regional Selective Assistance (RSA)

RSA is a capital investment grant linked to the creation or safeguarding of jobs in designated areas of need. 49 RSA grant offers totalling £4.9 million have been made to businesses in the Wakefield district, to support projects with a total capital expenditure of £52 million, and to create and safeguard a total of 1,984 jobs. Within these figures 10 offers related to the Hemsworth constituency where a grant of £0.8 million was offered against capital spend of £10.5 million and the creation/safeguarding of 246 jobs.

Enterprise Grants

The Enterprise grants scheme is a simplified scheme that was introduced in April 2000 to help small firms undertake fixed capital investment projects. Four offers totalling £14,000 have been made to firms in the Wakefield district, of which three were in the Hemsworth constituency.

Smart

Smart awards are designed to help small firms with the introduction of new products and processes. Seven smart awards totalling £557,076 have been made to firms in the Wakefield district. No awards have been made in the Hemsworth constituency.

Business Link

Business Link Wakefield have provided services to small businesses in the Wakefield area (including the Hemsworth constituency) since 1997. These include general and specialised advice to help businesses grown, export development counselling, ICT advice, and a full range of specialist information. From April 2001, these services will be provided by the Small Business Service operating through a new West Yorkshire business link with local concessions, including one in Wakefield. This new service will be more customer focused ensuring that services are driven by local need.


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