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Departmental Staff (Home Working)

Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps her Department is taking to encourage staff to work from home; and how many staff do so on a regular basis. [21835]

Ms Hewitt: Currently around 900 people in my Department have access to an IT service which allows them to work remotely. We do not keep data on how many people work from home on a regular basis.

I am keen to promote all forms of flexible working within my Department including working from home. I have asked management and the departmental trade unions to look at ways of achieving that.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the occasions since 1 January 2000 when (a) she and any of her predecessors, (b) Ministers within her Department and (c) officials within her Department have had discussions with representatives from BP. [21406]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 10 December 2001]: BP is a major British company which Ministers meet with quite frequently on a wide range of topics.


Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of the regulations affecting businesses introduced in the last financial year originated in European legislation. [22305]

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Ms Hewitt [holding answer 11 December 2001]: Approximately 20 per cent. of regulations introduced during the last financial year originated in European legislation.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of (a) the number of and (b) the financial cost to (i) small businesses, (ii) SMEs and (iii) businesses in general of regulations introduced in the last financial year. [22307]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 11 December 2001]: My Department was responsible for 127 regulations introduced in financial year 2000–01. Of these regulations 96 imposed negligible or no costs on business and 11 have reduced costs.

Where these regulations either imposed or reduced costs for business, regulatory impact assessments (RIAs) were carried out analysing these anticipated costs. These are available from the House Libraries.

Research Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the outcome was of the Research Council held in Brussels on 10 December; what the Government's stance was on each issue discussed, including its voting record; and if she will make a statement. [22679]

Ms Hewitt: The Research Council of 10 December:

Manufacturing Summit

Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the outcome of her Department's Manufacturing Summit held on 5 December. [22224]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 12 December 2001]: The aim of the Manufacturing Summit was to bring together national Government, devolved Administrations, regional development agencies and industry and trade union leaders to reach a shared view on the challenges facing UK manufacturing industry. The summit built on the joint work of the CBI and TUC on productivity, which was recently presented to the Chancellor and myself.

Acting on a recommendation from the CBI and TUC, I announced at the summit an additional £20 million of funding over two years to expand the Industry Forum and the Partnership Fund. This funding will help more firms to work to spread best practice within the supply chain through the extension of Industry Forum principles to

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additional sectors. The expansion of the Partnership Fund will help employee and employer representatives to work together to achieve better performance in the workplace.

As a result of the summit, RDAs will work closely with manufacturers, unions and other local partners to implement regional industrial policies in accordance with their regional economic strategies.

At the meeting, industry representatives recognised the need to boost training and skills in order to achieve the productivity improvements that are necessary. We agreed to work more closely to share ideas and best practice on the promotion of innovation and skills that are key to the future success of our manufacturing industry. We will also ensure that Government agencies are working together more effectively to help people who are made redundant to get new skills and jobs as quickly as possible.

Scottish Enterprise

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she made of the impact of Scottish Enterprise on the business birth rate when deciding to increase the amount of money given to regional venture capital funds. [22498]

Nigel Griffiths: In developing Regional Venture Capital Funds the experiences of schemes and initiatives elsewhere, including Scotland, were considered. The Regional Venture Capital Funds have been specifically designed to address the equity gap and their primary focus will be on existing businesses with significant growth prospects. It is unlikely that these funds would invest in start-up businesses, but they are not excluded from the programme.

Regional Venture Capital Funds are highly innovative in their approach and will bring together public and private equity finance of up to £270 million to invest in small growing businesses in the English regions.

Regional Venture Capital Funds

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what business birth rate targets have been set for each of the regional venture capital funds; and how much additional private investment the ventures backed by the funds are expected to receive in subsequent funding rounds. [22497]

Nigel Griffiths: Specific business birth rate targets have not been set for individual Regional Venture Capital Funds (RVCFs). Their primary aims are to ensure that established small growing businesses in each of the English regions are able to access risk capital finance in the equity gap and to demonstrate to institutional investors that robust returns can be made by investing in this sector. As part of the assessment process, all proposals seeking to manage funds were asked to demonstrate their compatibility with the Regional Economic Strategy developed by the Regional Development Agencies.

As a cornerstone investor the Government will be investing around £80 million to the RVCF programme with up to another £190 million being levered in from private sector investors. There is no indication at present how much additional private investment ventures backed by the RVCFs are likely to receive in subsequent funding rounds.

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Social Exclusion

Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many competitive grant schemes administered by her Department and its agencies were open in each of the last 10 years to organisations in the voluntary and community sector for the purposes of tackling social exclusion; [22433]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 12 December 2001]: The Phoenix Fund, operated by the Small Business Service, is the only competitive grant scheme that my Department runs specifically to help tackle social exclusion. It is designed to encourage enterprise by promoting the provision of business support for entrepreneurs from disadvantaged neighbourhoods or groups of people. Community and voluntary groups can apply for the bidding rounds. There are no application forms. Bidding guidance is published and copies are available in the Libraries of the House.

There have been four rounds of bidding (Development Fund Rounds 1 and 2 and Community Development Finance Initiatives Rounds 1 and 2). A list of successful applicants and a summary of their individual projects is available on the SBS website Awards totalling £15 million were offered to 50 applicants, from a total of 253, in December 2000 (Development Fund Round 1). In January 2001 £6 million was offered to 16 applicants, from a total of 58 (CDFI Round 1). A further £15 million was awarded to 46 organisations (from a total of 358) in September 2001 (Development Fund Round 2). Up to £15 million will be offered from the current round being appraised (CDFI Round 2), which has received 50 applications. The projects to be supported will be announced in February 2002. Details of individual awards are not published. Although the Phoenix Fund is project based, it is possible for some core costs to be supported.

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It is not possible to give a total for the administrative costs to the State, as the staff involved also undertake other duties. However, these costs are small in relation to the total grants awarded. The cost of the application will depend on the complexity of their bids, but again, these are small in relation to the average grant offered.

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