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Arms Exhibitions and Conferences

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what support has been provided by Trade Partners UK to assist PW Defence to (a) attend and (b) exhibit at MSP exhibitions or conferences in the UK and overseas since 1 May 1997; which exhibitions or conferences were attended; and what amounts were provided [60698]

Nigel Griffiths: Trade Partners UK (TPUK) provided support to PW Defence at the following overseas exhibitions under the terms of the Support for Exhibitions and Seminars Abroad scheme since May 1997:

Sep 2000Africa Aerospace and DefenceSouth Africa3,100
Mar 2001IDEXUAE2,300
Nov 2001MILIPOLFrance2,300
Apr 2002DSAMalaysia3,500

TPUK have no record of supporting PW Defence at any exhibitions or conferences in the UK during this period.

As the House knows, this company has been under investigation following a recent report on their activities.

Departmental Reviews

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the period is of the contract between her Department and Gap Gemini Ernst and Young relating to the current reviews of her Department. [61310]

Ms Hewitt: Cap Gemini Ernst and Young were appointed to support the DTI's reviews of its Priorities and Structure and its Support for Business in August 2001. Work on the Priorities and Structure finished in April this year while the contract for work currently being undertaken on Business Support will finish on 8 July.

Business Links

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the national standards applicable to those delivering Business Link branded services; and whether it is her policy that these standards should be made mandatory. [61308]

Nigel Griffiths: I continue to view the commitment to the National Standards of Professional Competence as key to improving the quality of service available from the Business Link network.

The National Standards of Professional Competence for those delivering Business Link branded services are mandatory.

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Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will place in the Library the annual assessments taken of the Business Links Service by her Department in each of the past four years. [61314]

Nigel Griffiths: Business Link quarterly performance information reports were routinely filed with the Libraries of the House until early 2001. Since then copies have been available electronically via the Small Business Service web site ( on request.

Hard copies will be supplied to the Libraries of the House.

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will place in the Library impact assessments relating to the performance of local business links. [61307]

Nigel Griffiths: Yes.

Small Business

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent measures the Government have taken to assist small businesses in offering more flexible hours; and what plans the Government have to ensure that businesses offer flexible hours to all employees. [61149]

Alan Johnson: We are committed to delivering our campaign to promote flexible working in small as well as large businesses. We are working with all businesses to convince them of the business benefits for flexible working, and we are at the same time providing advice on how they can develop flexible working approaches. This includes:

Providing from April 2003, parents of children aged under six and disabled children aged under 18 with a right to request to work flexibly and placing a duty on employers to consider requests seriously. This important new right has been specifically designed to take account of the needs of small business and will be accompanied by a package of support for both employers and employees, including tailored guidance for small businesses.

Helping to tackle the long hours culture in the UK, through an International Study Tour, which will share best practice on how best small as well as large companies maintain or improve productivity whilst tackling the issue of long hours.

Targeting and supporting specific sectors, including small businesses, to facilitate real change in those sectors where there is little experience of flexible working.

Providing support and guidance to employers who want to adopt flexible working but do not know how, through the Challenge Funds, and disseminating the emerging best practice. Our successful Challenge Fund programme, #10.5 million over three years (2000–03) aims to raise employers' awareness of the business benefits of policies and practices that help employees achieve a better balance between work and the rest of their lives. 166 companies, including small businesses, have already received support through the fund, and we have recently announced another round of successful projects, bringing the total number of companies to benefit from this fund to 399.

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Nuclear Waste White Paper

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the White Paper on Nuclear Waste will be published. [60055]

Mr. Wilson: The White Paper on managing the nuclear legacy will be published in the next few weeks. In setting out the Government's strategy for cleaning up the civil nuclear legacy, the White Paper will make reference to the separate consultation process on XManaging Radioactive Waste Safely" which is being carried out by DEFRA and the devolved administrations.

Disadvantaged Areas (Business Start-ups)

Jeff Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to support the start-up of new businesses in disadvantaged areas. [58236]

Alan Johnson: We are spending #170 million over the next three years through the Phoenix Fund and a loan fund for Business Incubators across all regions of England.

We are currently running 96 Phoenix Development Fund projects in disadvantaged areas and amongst under-represented groups, including one project in Barnsley. So far the Development Fund has enabled the start-up of 424 new enterprises and the creation or safeguarding of 1,613 jobs.

We are also supporting 46 Community Development Finance Initiative projects in disadvantaged areas and are currently progressing support to a CDFI in the South Yorkshire area.

The Phoenix Fund is also making #1.5 million available for seven City Growth Strategy initiatives—putting enterprise at the heart of regeneration. A further #3 million is aimed at rural areas through the Development Fund for Rural Renewal.

In addition, the SBS's Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme has guaranteed loans to the value of #5,588,149 to 106 businesses in South Yorkshire.

The SBS recently published (May 2002) a consultation document as part of the process for developing a comprehensive strategy for Start-ups. One of the key objectives in developing the strategy will be to identify and remove barriers (real or perceived) that discourage those in under-represented groups and disadvantaged areas from starting a business, so that the gap between their numbers and the national average is reduced.

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The DTI will measure its progress in promoting enterprise in this way by reducing the 35 per cent. difference in business start up rates between the 20 per cent. most prosperous and the 20 per cent. most disadvantaged wards.

Equal Opportunities

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action she is taking to encourage women to take up science and engineering careers. [58228]

Ms Hewitt: The Department's Promoting SET for Women Unit will continue to be in existence for another five years to stimulate progress. I have asked Baroness Greenfield to report to me on the development of a more aggressive strategy for women in science and engineering. I also recently announced a new award, in memory of Rosalind Franklin, which will be given annually in recognition of outstanding scientific achievement in innovation and research to raise the profile of women in science. My Department is also funding a national mentoring scheme for women in SET.

Fishermen's Compensation

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many claims were (a) submitted and (b) paid and what sums were paid out for each fishing port in the scheme for compensating fishermen for the loss of Icelandic waters in the last five years. [61406]

Nigel Griffiths: The figures as of 31 May 2002 are as follows:

Current area of residence of claimant Number of paymentsAmount of compensation # million
West Yorkshire2081.9

A total of 7,030 claims, not including duplicates, were received but I regret there is no breakdown of this figure by fishing port.

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