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Export Credits Guarantee Department

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the annual revenues that would be generated if the Export Credits Guarantee Department were required to generate a return to the Government on capital of six per cent. in real terms; and if she will make a statement.[38262]

Ms Hewitt: I announced to the House on 7th February 2002 that the original target date for the establishment of an ECGD Trading Fund was no longer appropriate. Pending the further announcement which I have undertaken to make in due course it would not be appropriate for me to provide such an estimate.

LNM Holdings

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what meetings have taken place since 1997 between ministers and officials of her Department and Mr. Lakshmi Mittal and executives of the LNM Group; on what dates the meetings occurred; and who attended from her Department. [37929]

Ms Hewitt: Ministers and civil servants meet many people as part of the process of policy development and analysis. All such contacts are conducted in accordance with the 'Ministerial Code', the 'Civil Service Code' and 'Guidance for Civil Servants: Contacts with Lobbyists'. Some of these discussions take place on a confidential basis, and in order to preserve confidentiality, it is not the normal practice of Governments to release specific details of specific meetings with private individuals or companies.

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when her Department was informed of the attempt by the LNM Group to acquire Sidex. [37932]

Ms Hewitt: In accordance with previous Administration it is not our practice to disclose internal advice to Ministers which is exempt under exemption 2 of the Code of Practice on access to Government information.

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the occasions on which meetings have taken place between ministers or officials and representatives of LNM Holdings in the last five years. [38853]

Ms Hewitt: Ministers and civil servants meet many people as part of the process of policy development and analysis. All such contacts are conducted in accordance with the 'Ministerial Code', the 'Civil Service Code' and 'Guidance for Civil Servants: Contacts with Lobbyists'. Some of these discussions take place on a confidential basis, and in order to preserve confidentiality, it is not the normal practice of Governments to release specific details of specific meetings with private individuals or companies.

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations were made by her Department to the European Commission regarding the takeover of Irish Steel by LNM Holdings. [38852]

28 Feb 2002 : Column 1483W

Ms Hewitt: The takeover of Irish Steel by LNM Holdings was dealt with under a previous administration.

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when her Department was informed of the support given by LNM Holdings for the imposition of US tariffs against overseas steel imports.[38843]

Ms Hewitt: My Department was not directly informed, but became aware through the media, of this support.

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations her Department has received against the takeover of Sidex Steel by LNM Holdings. [38848]

Ms Hewitt: I receive representations from many groups eager to press their case.

London Congestion Charge

Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the impact the proposed London congestion charge will have on Consignia's operations in the charging zone.[37817]

Mr. Alexander: The proposed central London congestion charging scheme is a matter for the Mayor of London. This Department has not made an assessment of the impact the proposed charge would have on Consignia plc.

Regional Development Agencies

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will increase the number of places for business people on RDA boards. [38479]

Alan Johnson: The RDAs are business-led organisations and all the RDA Chairs have strong business backgrounds. I announced the new appointments to the Regional Development Agency boards on 7 December 2001. Board members with current business experience now make up 50 per cent. of boards overall. This is a ten per cent. increase from the last round of appointments. Some RDA boards have even higher percentages of current business representation, including the East of England Development Agency and the South West Regional Development Agency with 57 per cent.

Trade unions, local government, voluntary organisations and other bodies will also continue to be represented on RDA boards, with the majority of boards now at their statutory maximum of 15 members.

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will increase regional development agency support for national parks. [38478]

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Alan Johnson: From 1 April, funding for Regional Development Agencies will be through new single programme budget arrangements. RDAs will be able to decide on their priorities for spending according to their regional economic strategies. Funding for RDAs will increase significantly in 2002–03 over 2001–02, from 1.2 billion to 1.5 billion, but it is for individual RDA to decide on the basis of their dialogue with local stakeholders how these resources should be used.

Job No: 713438 Folios: 1088

Business Contacts

Mr. Collins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has made to foreign Governments on behalf of individual companies since 7 June 2001; and which they were. [37966]

Ms Hewitt: I regularly make representations to foreign Governments on behalf of British business when it is in the UK's interest to do so. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear in his answer on 14 February 2002, Official Report, column 611W, Ministers in successive Governments have worked for British interest abroad and as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry I regard this as an important part of my job.

Government Chemist

Brian White: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she has received the 2001 Review of the Government Chemist. [40168]

Ms Hewitt: I have just received the fifth Annual Review of the Government Chemist and copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

External Consultants

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which non-accounting and non-information technology external organisations have won new contracts with (a) her Department and (b) executive agencies in each of the past five years. [38718]

Ms Hewitt: On the basis that every purchase order constitutes a contract, Companies House is unable to respond with the requested information on the grounds of disproportionate cost.

Departmental Expenditure Limits

Phil Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans there are to change the departmental expenditure limit and administration cost limits for her Department and the Office of Fair Trading. [40167]

Ms Hewitt: A technical revision has been made to the Department of Trade and Industry DEL, which has no impact on either the total DEL or the Administration Costs limit.

Within the DEL change, the impact on resources and capital is as set out in the following table.

Resources (000) Capital (000)
ChangeNew DELOf which: VotedNon-votedChangeNew DELOf which: VotedNon-voted
7,0434,029,188895,1453,134,043-7,043806,285-148,330954,615

28 Feb 2002 : Column 1485W

The change in the resource and capital DEL arises from a revision of the classification as between resource and capital of an agreed increase in DEL for the Science research councils of 43,270,000 which was included in the Winter Supplementary.

Subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate the Office of Fair Trading DEL will be increased by 3,000,000 from 40,536,000 to 43,536,000 and the Administration Costs limit will be increased by 3,000,000 from 40,536,000 to 43,536,000.

Within the DEL change, the impact on resources and capital is as set out in the following table:

Resources (000)Capital (000)
ChangeNew DELOf which: VotedNon-votedChangeNew DELOf which: VotedNon-voted
3,00041,30839,0082,30002,2282,2280

The change in the resource element of the DEL arises from the following:

(i) to provide additional resources of 700,000 in Administration to enable the Office of Fair Trading to meet the costs of all liability to third parties for litigation and redress;

(ii) to provide additional resources of 1,112,000 in Administration in relation to the recharge of rental income for the Office of Fair Trading Minor Occupiers. This is offset by a corresponding increase in Appropriations in Aid;

(iii) utilise the provision of 2,300,000 in meeting the costs of liability to third parties for litigation and redress.

The increase will be charged to the DEL Reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.



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