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Express Newspapers

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) on what basis the then Secretary of State determined that Mr. Richard Desmond was a fit and proper person to control Express Newspapers; [61479]

Ms Hewitt: Since 1984 it has been the policy of successive governments that the primary reason for making a reference will always be the impact of a transaction on competition.

Further, since October 2000 it has been the stated policy of this Government to accept the advice of the Director General of Fair Trading on whether or not to make a reference in all but exceptional circumstances.

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In this case my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State had regard to the advice of the Office of Fair Trading on competition factors.

In addition, the fact that Mr. Desmond had adult business interests was drawn to my right hon. Friend before the case was considered and the views of the Home Office, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and a range of third parties on non-competition issues were considered. We did not investigate further Northern and Shell's websites. There was no suggestion that these sites were illegal. The laws on obscenity apply to all publications and to the internet.

My right hon. Friend therefore took into account all factors which appeared to be relevant at the time before deciding that there was no reason, on competition or non-competition grounds, to refer this case to the Competition Commission.

Internal Communications

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what budget, functions and staff will be under the control of the new head of internal communications in her Department; and what the previous structure and budget was for those functions. [62050]

Ms Hewitt: The internal communications team will initially be five people amounting to four full time equivalents. A budget of £100,000 has been put aside for this financial year. The team's aim will be to identify and implement an internal communications strategy for the DTI so that everyone can contribute to the Department's success by being well-informed and having the opportunity to feed in their own views. The team will publish the DTI's staff newspaper, improve the Department's internal communications systems, particularly the intranet, and raise communication skills across the Department.

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the impact of retentions on the profitability of SMEs in the United Kingdom construction industry. [58138]

Mr. Wilson: The DTI has made no formal assessment of the impact of retentions. The DTI is supporting the efforts of the Strategic Forum for the Construction Industry to address issues of payment and quality assurance; most recently in the "Accelerating Change" consultation document.

Construction Industry

Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received on the practice of retentions in the construction industry. [58140]

Mr. Wilson: Since taking over responsibility for sponsoring the construction industry after the general election in June 2001, Ministers at the Department of Trade and Industry have received 83 letters supporting early-day motion number 428 on the practice of retentions in the construction industry.

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The use of retentions is commonplace, resulting from adversarial relationships between the players in the industry, and allegations about defects and poor quality of work.

DTI is taking a range of steps to address the root causes. "Rethinking Construction" sets out a change process that should lead to fewer defects, and hence progressively reduce the need for retentions. DTI has undertaken considerable work to support constructive procurement principles. However this issue will only be fully resolved when the whole construction industry changes by providing quality, defect-free work that fully meets the needs of contractors and clients.

Renewable Energy

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the targets for the Renewables UK unit in Aberdeen will be published; and if she will make a statement. [58267]

Mr. Wilson: Renewables UK's aim is to maximise the UK's involvement in renewable projects both at home and abroad in terms of jobs and investment in manufacturing, services and supplies. There is an important link between this sector and the oil and gas industry, whose strategic forum—PILOT—has established a number of key aims for the year 2010 including the identification of £1 billion worth of new business opportunities.

As an initial working target Renewables UK has adopted half this target ie £500 million of new business to the UK in renewables manufacturing, services and supplies by 2010. However, Renewables UK is now working to refine and broaden this target by establishing baseline figures and developing a defined set of metrics. This will include undertaking an employment survey in conjunction with the Renewables Trade Associations to establish the number of current jobs in renewables.

I have established the Renewables Advisory Board (the interim boards met on 21 May). The board will work closely with Renewables UK to establish a challenging yet achievable set of targets, which will be published.

Coal Industry

David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many collieries have closed in each year since 1997 in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) England. [60308]

Mr. Wilson: The information available shows that the total number of collieries that have closed in Scotland, Wales and England since 1997 is 37.

The number of closures each year is as follows:



Coal Authority data provided to the Department of Trade and Industry.

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North Sea Fiscal Regime

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions regarding the change in the North sea fiscal regime have been conducted with PILOT since the announcement of the 2002 Budget. [59386]

Mr. Wilson: A number of discussions have taken place with the industry since the Budget of 17 April. Most recently, on 22 May, I met with industry representatives from PILOT to hear their views on the Budget 2002 changes.

Further discussions will take place at the PILOT meeting in June.

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how PILOT's stated goals are likely to be affected by the change in the North sea fiscal regime. [59387]

Mr. Wilson: PILOT, the joint Government/industry forum, has an extensive action programme to improve the industry's competitiveness. It is pursuing a number of visionary targets for 2010 and last year set the interim production and investment targets for 2005. I expect PILOT to continue to monitor progress against these targets. The fiscal regime is one of many influences affecting the success of the industry meeting them. Further discussions on the vision targets will take place at future PILOT meetings.

Fabrication Jobs

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many fabrication jobs there are in Scotland; and how many there were in each of the previous five years; [58895]

Mr. Wilson: Numbers employed in Scottish offshore fabrication are estimated at:

YearNumber employed

Unsolicited Faxes

Linda Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Telecommunications (Data Protection & Privacy) Regulations 1999 and the IC5715 Code of Conduct in controlling unsolicited faxes. [59991]

Mr. Timms: The effectiveness of the Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations in controlling unsolicited direct marketing faxes may be monitored by, among other things, looking at levels of registrations with, and complaints to, the Fax Preference Service (FPS); up to date figures on these are available from the Direct Marketing Association, which was appointed to run the Telephone and Fax Preference Services under the

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regulations. Since the Fax Preference Service was put on a statutory basis in 1999, total registrations have risen from under 15,000 to over 1,000,000; the FPS currently receives about 1,500 complaints a week about faxes, compared to some 700 a week at the end of last year. Information on compliance with the ICSTIS Code of Practice is published in the committee's monthly reports.

There will be an opportunity to review the regulations in more depth next year when we consult on implementation of the updated version of the European directive on which they are based.

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