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Regional Development Agencies

Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what decisions she has made about the membership of the boards of the regional development agencies outside London. [57319]

Alan Johnson: The first terms of office of Jonathan Porritt (SW RDA), John Ashcroft (Yorkshire Forward) and Bryan Carr and Ron Whittaker (EMDA) ended this year. Following consultation with RDA chairmen and key national and regional players, I have decided to re-appoint each of them to their respective board for a second term of three years. Biographies of these board members are set out. The next round of new appointments will begin in June.

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ISA Fees

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to which Government Department, and to which account, the ISA's fees and retained interest are credited. [55010]

Miss Melanie Johnson: ISA fees are credited to the Department of Trade and Industry's account at the Bank of England. Pursuant to the provisions of section 405 of the Insolvency Act 1986 surplus interest is paid to the Consolidated Fund.

Office of Fair Trading

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to review the working of the Office of Fair Trading; and if she will make a statement. [54661]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 8 May 2002]: Under the Enterprise Bill we are creating a new statutory framework for the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), including creating a board, and requiring the OFT to publish an annual plan and annual report.

Export Licences (Israel)

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) Standard Individual Export Licences and (b) Open Individual Export Licences have been issued for exports to Israel in each month since January 2001. [55794]

Nigel Griffiths: The number of Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs) and Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs) issued to end users in Israel in each month since January 2001 was as follows:

Month/yearNumber of SIELsNumber of OIELs
January 200100
February 2001460
March 2001262
April 2001253
May 200101
June 200100
July 2001812
August 2001174
September 2001165
October 2001255
November 2001251
December 2001150
January 2002131
February 2002153
March 2002201
April 200251

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All export licence applications to Israel are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing criteria in light of the circumstances prevailing at the time. This means that we will not issue export licences where to do so would be in contravention of the Consolidated Criteria, including where there is a clear risk that the items might be used in internal repression, international aggression, adversely affect regional stability or prolong internal conflict.

Newspaper Distribution

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on her Department's policy on (a) competition and (b) regulation in the newspaper distribution industry. [57107]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Responsibility for monitoring the newspaper distribution market and investigating allegations of anti-competitive behaviour lies with the Director General of Fair Trading.

The Office of Fair Trading is currently reviewing the Code of Practice on the supply of national newspapers, introduced following the 1993 monopoly report on newspaper distribution in England and Wales. It is also examining other issues affecting the industry including exclusive distribution and carriage charges.

Manufacturing Strategy

Linda Gilroy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the Government's manufacturing strategy. [57848]

Ms Hewitt: In our first term, our priority was to establish a platform of macro economic stability. That we have achieved. We now need to build upon this foundation to improve the productivity and competitiveness of our economy.

As part of this programme, I am publishing today a report setting out the Government's strategy for the manufacturing sector; a report by the Automotive Innovation and Growth Team; and a Value-Added Scoreboard. Copies of each publication are being placed in the Libraries of the House. I have also established a new Innovation and Growth Team, on the aerospace industry.

UK manufacturing matters. It creates a fifth of our national output, employs 4 million people and produces the majority of our exports. It supports well paid jobs in all regions. It can make a very substantial contribution to improvements in our economy's productivity. The success of United Kingdom manufacturing is crucial to our country's prosperity, now and in the future.

I recognise that the sector has been facing difficult conditions. There is intense competition in every market, compounded within the euro zone by the persistent weakness of that currency. In recent times, manufacturers

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around the world have all faced very difficult trading conditions, as a result of the global downturn in manufacturing.

Looking to the future, however, the potential of the sector is strong. The United Kingdom is part of the world's largest single market as well as being one of the world's most open trading nations. This brings extra competition, but also extra opportunity. Recent surveys of industrial confidence have been positive, and there is evidence of improved global conditions.

Manufacturing strategy

Many UK manufacturers are world leaders. We excel in sectors such as car manufacturing, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, the electronics industry and food production. But despite its many strengths, UK manufacturing also suffers from long-standing weaknesses—lower levels of skill, investment, R and D and innovation—that contribute to lower levels of productivity than in France, Germany and the US.

The document I am publishing sets out the Government's strategy for helping manufacturing companies fulfil their potential in the UK, moving up the value chain to high skilled, knowledge intensive operations. The strategy builds on the TUC/CBI work on productivity, the dialogue at the manufacturing summit I hosted last December, and a careful analysis of the evidence.

A first requirement is that Government must create a sound market-oriented, stable business environment. But this is not enough. We must also encourage companies to innovate, to invest, to improve skills and use best business practice. On this basis we identify seven manufacturing pillars for our strategy:

Within each pillar, there are objectives and actions for Government and industry to develop. The strategy is neither a hard and fast prescription, nor a formula for instant initiatives. Instead, we offer it as the basis for continuing to develop a robust partnership with management, employees and their unions—a manufacturing partnership based on best practice that must be effective at the national, regional and sectoral level.

AIGT report

The Automotive Innovation and Growth Team report that I am also publishing today provides an excellent example of Government working in partnership with industry to produce a practical strategy which will bring real benefits to a critical manufacturing sector.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is discussing the strategy later this afternoon with Sir Ian Gibson, Chairman of the AIGT, and other senior automotive leaders. I am delighted to accept the recommendations of the report and to confirm that the Government are committed to delivering on the report's conclusions in partnership with the automotive industry. Government funding of around £45 million will be invested over five

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years to implement the recommendations to establish an Automotive Academy, Supply Chain Groups, and two automotive centres of excellence.

Value-Added Scoreboard

I am also publishing today the first ever company wealth creation league table—the Value-Added Scoreboard, which measures value added, that is sales less the cost of bought-in materials, components and services. It provides a unique tool which enables all companies, including those not currently in the Scoreboard, easily to calculate their value added from their annual report and benchmark themselves against UK and European companies in their sector that are in the Scoreboard.

The Scoreboard, put together by the DTI Innovation Group, contains real success stories of British manufacturing and other sectors and will help companies to learn from the record of Britain's and Europe's most successful businesses. There are five UK companies in the top 15 wealth creators in Europe—Shell, BP, HSBC, GlaxoSmithKline and BT—and 24 in the top 100, all highly successful companies that create high value added for the UK economy.

Next steps

The work of the Automotive Innovation and Growth Team, and our response to its report, underlines our commitment to effective action to support manufacturing.

Three other innovation and growth teams have already been established, in the chemicals, environmental equipment, and software sectors. In the textiles and clothing sector, we are implementing the recommendations of the Industry Strategy Group. The aerospace industry in the UK has been very successful, but it is facing increasing competition from other parts of the world. I am, therefore, delighted to be able to announce today the formation of an innovation and growth team for the sector, led by Sir Richard Evans of BAE Systems.

On the wider aspects of our manufacturing strategy:

Our aim is to deepen and broaden the consensus around the actions required to achieve manufacturing success in the UK. In partnership with industry and other stakeholders, we are determined to deliver results.

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