Previous Section Index Home Page

Sub-Post Offices

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many sub-post offices have (a) closed and (b) reduced opening hours which are located in (i) Galloway and Upper Nithsdale, (ii) the Dumfries and Galloway region and (iii) Scotland in each of the last five years. [33067]

6 Feb 2002 : Column 963W

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 5 February 2002]: I am informed by Post Office Ltd. that data by country before 1998 are not available and that regional data are not collated in the form requested. Data on reduced hours opening of sub-post offices are not held historically.

The numbers of post offices operating in Scotland over the last three financial years are as follows:

End MarchNumber

I am also informed by Post Office Ltd. that an on-going revision of data has affected individual country totals.

Christmas Day Trading

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many customers shopped on Christmas day 2001 in England and Wales. [30946]

Miss Melanie Johnson: No data are available on the number of customers shopping on Christmas day 2001.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will publish the results of the regulatory impact assessment on the Christmas Day (Trading) Bill. [30940]

Miss Melanie Johnson: No regulatory impact assessment has been completed in respect of the Bill.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will publish the representations her Department has received from retailers about the Christmas Day (Trading) Bill. [30861]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Department has so far received no representations from retailers about the Bill.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many retailers have indicated to her Department that they (a) would never open on Christmas day, (b) would consider opening on Christmas day and (c) intend to open on Christmas day, in the last five years. [30945]

Miss Melanie Johnson: No retailers had indicated their intentions on these matters to the Department.

Sunday Trading

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will publish recent representations her Department has received from retailers about Sunday trading hours when Christmas eve falls on a Sunday. [30943]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Department has received no representations from retailers since it became responsible for this subject in June 2001.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will publish recent representations her Department has received from large garden centres about trading on Easter Sunday. [30942]

6 Feb 2002 : Column 964W

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Department has received no representations since it became responsible for this subject in June 2001.


Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her answer of 17 January 2002, Official Report, column 419, on Consignia, what sums are being invested by the Government with respect to the steps that need to be taken to maintain the delivery service in rural areas and the rural network, broken down by (a) Scotland, (b) England (c) Wales and (d) Northern Ireland. [30872]

Mr. Alexander [holding answer 28 January 2002]: The Postal Services Act 2000 provides that it is the primary responsibility of the postal regulator (Postcomm) to exercise its functions in a manner best calculated to ensure the provision of a universal postal service. It is therefore for Postcomm to determine how the universal service obligation is implemented in the interests of consumers. Currently Postcomm requires Consignia plc, in the licence, to provide a universal postal service.

£480 million has been invested by Government in the Horizon programme to automate the entire post office network and £270 million of support over three years has been committed by Government for modernisation of the network. In addition, we have made available a £2 million fund to support volunteer and community initiatives to maintain or reopen post office facilities in rural areas where traditional services would otherwise close. Advice on transitional financial assistance on a UK-wide basis to the rural post office network from the Postal Services Commission is currently under consideration.

Competition Commission

Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the remit is of the Competition Commission with respect to considering the need for firms to compete globally when investigating merger and acquisition activity in the UK. [33006]

Miss Melanie Johnson: When conducting an inquiry into a merger, the Commission is required to determine whether the creation of a merger situation operates, or may be expected to operate, against the public interest. In conducting its inquiry into the public interest effects of the merger the Commission considers all matters which appear to it to be relevant.

Fair Trade Fortnight

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to encourage participation by her Department in Fair Trade Fortnight from 4 to 17 March. [33553]

Ms Hewitt: The Department's catering contractor is going to run special promotions throughout this period for all its fairly traded goods such as tea and coffee.

Technology Transfer

Mr. Lyons: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress is being made to encourage the transfer of new technologies from universities to industry. [33033]

6 Feb 2002 : Column 965W

Ms Hewitt: We have introduced a number of complementary initiatives designed to encourage better interaction between universities and industry. This will enable businesses to access and benefit from the universities' research capabilities, and universities themselves become more responsive to the needs of industry.

In October 2001 the Government made awards in excess of £100 million under three competitions (the Higher Education Innovation Fund £80 million, Science Enterprise Challenge £15 million and University Challenge £15 million) to encourage the transfer of knowledge from the science base to industry.

This builds on the previous funding allocated to the first round of University Challenge, £45 million in 1999, and Science Enterprise challenge, £28.9 million in 1999–2000.

We have expanded the successful TCS scheme which enables high-quality graduates to draw on academic support and expertise while working in a company on research projects of value to industry. We have increased TCS activity by 25 per cent. during 2001; from 730 to 918 current TCS Programmes.

DTI and its co-sponsors have approved 18 Faraday Partnerships focused on areas of major industrial importance to the UK. Each partnership is designed to promote better exploitation of research and technology by creating partnerships between universities, intermediary bodies (eg research and technology organisations, private sector laboratories, etc.), business end-users and suppliers of finance. A further six partnerships will be selected later this year to enable us to fulfil our White Paper commitment to set up a national network of 24 Faraday Partnerships by 2002.

The Government have continued to support the LINK collaborative research scheme which is aimed at promoting the development and transfer of new technologies between universities and companies. Expenditure across Government in support of LINK was £41 million in 2000–01. The Government announced seven new LINK programmes and committed £12 million in 2000–01 to a further round of Foresight LINK Awards projects, complementing current LINK programmes in Foresight priority areas. There are currently a total of some 380 LINK university/company research projects under way.

Clothing/textile Industries

Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if she will make it her policy to promote innovation in the textile and clothing industry by supporting a series of sector-specific events highlighting best practice in product innovation; [33269]

6 Feb 2002 : Column 966W

Ms Hewitt: It is a priority for my Department to support a healthy UK textiles and clothing industry and to work alongside the industry's own Textile and Clothing Strategy Group (TCSG) in helping to improve the industry's productivity and competitiveness. I attach particular importance to helping the industry to innovate and develop new world-beating products. The Government have invested more than £80 million in the industry since 1997. And in the last year alone, we have invested about £8 million focused principally on developing the technical textiles market, employment and training opportunities, help for the supply chain, design skills, the benefits of 3-commerce and export support.

My Department is working closely with the TCSG to raise awareness and encourage participating of textile and clothing manufacturers in a variety of research, technology transfer and best practice programmes.

A programme of 10 regionally tailored road shows, "Textile and Clothing Funding Unzipped", is under way in key textiles and clothing regions underpinned by a dedicated website signposting companies to sources of help and support for technological innovation, for R&D and for capital investment, including information on collaborative EU programmes such as Link and Eureka. "Unzipped" road shows have so far been held in Melton Mowbray—east midlands in March 2001, Bolton—north-west region in October 2001, Huddersfield—Yorkshire and Humber region in October 2001, Port Talbot—south Wales in November 2001, Llandudno—north Wales in November 2001, London in December 2001 and continues in Sunderland—north-east region on 6 February 2002, Solihull—west midlands on 5 March 2002, Edinburgh on 14 March 2002 and Belfast on 20 March 2002.

6 Feb 2002 : Column 967W

Particular focus has been given by my Department to supporting the development of Technical Textiles. Since 1998 22 collaborative and innovative technical textiles projects have been supported and a further seven new projects are currently in development. In April 2001 a Technical Textiles Project Co-ordinator was appointed to increase networking within the sector and bring together project consortia of technical textile companies and academic institutions. To help in this objective regional seminars have been held to highlight the availability of funding for technical textile innovation and to encourage traditional textile companies to diversify into this sector. My Department is supporting the work of TechniTex—the Faraday Partnership for technical textiles comprising hub partners Heriot-Watt university, the university of Leeds, UMIST and BTTG. We welcome the industry initiative to explore the possibility of setting up of a TT trade association, which would help broker stronger links across the sector.

We continue to seek to involve UK textile manufacturers in research collaborations with universities. Currently we are funding two such research partnerships through Foresight LINK Awards. The two projects are aimed at researching new fire resistant textiles, and a prototype automated sorter for the detection and removal of natural and synthetic contaminants in wool and cashmere. We are also funding a EUREKA project with the objective of creating a pilot line for the manufacture of texturised, mass stained, fine polypropylene yarn.

We are already supporting a variety of collaborative initiatives in the textile and clothing sector as a whole aimed at fostering stronger networks between strategic partners through the Innovation Budget and through best practice programmes such as the Industry Forum Adaptation scheme, which is currently funding a major initiative aimed at improving supply chain efficiency in the textiles and clothing sector.

My Department is aware that the industry has been in discussions with a view to developing British wool textile as a generic brand. In consultation with the TCSG my Department is carrying out a comparative study of the UK and Italian clothing manufacturing industries, focused on the wool and worsted weaving and men's tailoring sectors. The results of this study will be disseminated to the industry and will inform decisions about any future research projects.

Next Section Index Home Page