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Amraf Training Plc

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent action she has taken in respect of Amraf Training plc. [65496]

Ms Hewitt: None.

A winding-up order was made against Amraf Training plc on 30 May 2002 following the company going into administration. The administrators were subsequently appointed to be the joint liquidators.

The Official Receiver at Southend-on-Sea is investigating the causes of the company's failure, but the investigations are at an early stage. Matters of concern may be addressed to her at: 4th Floor, Central House, 8 Clifftown Road, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 1AB.

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what payments were made to Amraf Training plc in (a) 2000–01 and (b) 2001–02 for the provision of training courses. [65494]

Ms Hewitt: We have identified no payments made by the Department of Trade and Industry to Amraf Training plc.

False Accounting

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action her Department is taking to ensure that examples of false accounting in the USA are not repeated in the UK; and if she will make a statement. [66775]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The UK has well-developed and internationally respected arrangements for setting and enforcing accounting and auditing standards, both of which are vital to the preparation of company accounts

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which show a 'true and fair' view. There were substantial changes for the better to both accounting and auditing standards during the 1990s.

It would be unwise, however, to conclude that serious concerns over particular company accounts could not arise in the UK, or that more regulation can prevent all possibilities of false accounting.

There are a number of relevant actions in hand, which build on the existing position. A group, which I chair together with my hon. Friend, the Financial Secretary, was formed in February to co-ordinate the response of key regulators to the issues for accounting, auditing and aspects of corporate governance raised initially in the aftermath of Enron. The group will produce an interim report by the end of July.

In addition, the Government will publish shortly their response to the company law review, which made a number of relevant recommendations to improve company reporting. The Government have also set up a review of the role and effectiveness of non-executive directors under Derek Higgs, which is expected to report around the end of the year.

It is also important, as we move with our EU partners to adopt international accounting standards for 2005, that none of the strength of existing UK requirements is lost. The Government therefore welcome the leading role which the UK Accounting Standards Board is playing in the development of international standards; and the determination of the International Board under Sir David Tweedie to ensure that there are rigorous international standards in place by 2005.

Investment (Coventry)

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action the Government have taken to attract businesses to Coventry since 1997. [66160]

Ms Hewitt: Over the last five years more than 270 companies have invested in Coventry for the first time, creating over 11,400 jobs. Coventry is home to more than 130 overseas-owned companies which have taken advantage of the many opportunities offered by the City.

Growth in value-added R&D activity has seen major investment and modernisation from companies such as Yachiyo, Denso, Edscha, Eu-Matic, Mission Foods, Peugeot, Jaguar and others which have all benefited from the wide employment opportunities in the area, and received support from local, regional and national Government schemes. Eu-Matic's investment was the first inward investment announced under the new Labour Government in 1997 and their 132,000 sq ft, purpose-built factory on seven acres at Coventry Business Park was completed in January 1999. This £17 million investment was supported by a Regional Selective Assistance grant of £2.5 million.

Other investments have seen a new HQ for AAH Pharmaceuticals, new investment from a Mexican company, Mission Foods, EPMB, and a major expansion at Peugeot. Jaguar and Denso are among many other examples.

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Much of the city is eligible for Objective 2 funding. Other European funding via "Rechar" programmes have benefited Kersley Colliery and the "Retex" (textile industry) programme has added to major reinvestment by the public sector in regenerating large parts of the area.

Brownfield site regeneration has been an area of major success in the city with former major employment sites now housing new inward investors and investment from the city's university at the Technopark and the Coventry business park. Growth in the city's and sub-region's ICT sector has seen over 40,000 people now employed in 1,300 companies in this sector, helping diversify the area away from traditional manufacturing.

The creation of a science park, and a Technocentre housing centres for incubator units, innovation, and many small start-up companies, have all been supported by public sector partnerships working with others. Other examples of such developments include Binley development. Nearly 50 acres have been developed for commercial use in the city, including the private sector-led Prologis park.

DTI's Small Business Service has ensured that in the last year nearly 2,000 local businesses have received advice and support. Also, almost 2,000 people have benefited from training to raise the local skills threshold. Additionally, some £1.5 million worth of funding from the Skills Development Fund has been allocated to Coventry for projects such as a purpose-built centre for the delivery of engineering training.

Advantage West Midlands, the west midlands regional development agency, is supporting Coventry and its sub-region's desire to promote the area as a High Technology Corridor. Substantial investment from the Rover task force resource will be used for HTC projects e.g. through the establishment of an ICT Skills Taskforce and an associated skills training scheme.

Part of the city falls within Advantage West Midlands' Coventry-Nuneaton Regeneration Zone, which aims to connect areas of need to opportunities, working with many local partners in the community, voluntary and education sectors. This will receive considerable funding from Government.

Community investment has been supported by approximately £12 million via the Government's Neighbourhood Renewal Programme, including developments at Hillfields and Wood End, and some £55 million under the New Deal for Communities. £37 million has been provided via the Single Regeneration Budget Programme in the same period.

Coventry has benefited from substantial other funding from a number of Government schemes, including Sure Start and the Children's Fund, along with over £50 million from the national lottery.

Employment is at its highest since the mid 1980s, with 142,000 employed in the city compared with 118,000 in 1992. While there have been some shifts in employment between sectors (telecoms and aerospace have suffered recent downturns), the changing nature of Coventry's economy has meant that unemployment has remained at 3.7 per cent. for several years, only slightly above the regional average of 3.5 per cent. The strong sub-regional partnership between agencies operating across the area,

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such as Jobcentre Plus, the Chamber, LSC, city council, Advantage West Midlands and Regional Supply Office, has ensured that when downsizing situations arise, the partnership is able to deploy the necessary tools to assist companies in a number of practical ways. This has been reinforced with Government funding via the Rapid Response Fund and other training and development initiatives.

More than 20,000 students are expected to graduate from the two universities this year assisting business and individuals gain qualifications and training across many sectors.

Through these significant interventions the Government have worked hard to achieve some important improvements in the regional economy, and to support the strong lead which local partners have shown to promote the industrial growth and diversification of Coventry and its sub-region since 1997.

UK Atomic Energy Authority

Mr. Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her statement of 28 November 2001, Official Report, column 992W, on the UK Atomic Energy Authority, when the White Paper on arrangements for managing public sector civil nuclear liabilities will be published. [67725]

Mr. Wilson: The White Paper "Managing the Nuclear Legacy—A Strategy for Action" is being published today. Copies are available in the Library and the Vote Office.

The White Paper sets out plans for radical changes to current arrangements for the clean up of the public sector civil nuclear legacy including the creation of a new body—the Liabilities Management Authority—responsible to Government and with a specific remit to ensure that clean up is carried out safely, securely, cost effectively and in ways which protect the environment for the benefit of current and future generations. It makes clear the Government's determination to drive clean up forward systematically and progressively using the best available skills to get the job done and, through competition, to promote the development of the supply chain and skills base required to sustain the clean up programme over the long term. It also underlines our commitment to ensuring that management arrangements are open, transparent and command public confidence. Implementing legislation will be brought forward at the first available opportunity.

In the interim, a Liabilities Management Unit (LMU) has been established in the DTI to drive forward the clean up work and to prepare the ground for the LMA. Membership of the LMU is drawn from the private and public sectors. The appointment of Bechtel as partner contractor adds international experience to the LMU, reflecting the Government's intention to ensure that the best skills are brought to bear on legacy clean up.

In line with the commitment to openness and transparency, the Government have consulted widely with stakeholders in the preparation of the White Paper and would welcome views on the proposed new arrangements and the way in which they should be implemented. Views should be submitted to the Department by 18 October. Contact details are provided in the White Paper.

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