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Mr. Wilson: Ofgem has notified the Secretary of State under section 11A(4) of the Electricity Act 1989 of its proposal to make the following modifications to electricity standard licence conditions since they were introduced on 1 October 2001:
SLC5: to suspend the effect of paragraphs 2 and 3 of the condition in relation to licensees to whom SLC 49 applies.
SLC 39 and 40: to introduce revised conditions relating to the use of certain information relating to the distribution business.
SLC C3: to enable a change to the procedural requirements for modifying the Balancing and Settlement Code proposed by the BSC Parties.
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Mr. Wilson: Ofgem, the gas and electricity regulator, is currently preparing a report on the operation of NETA in its first year. This is due to be published this month and will include a section on the impact of NETA on smaller generators. I shall ensure a copy of the document is placed in the Libraries of the House.
Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 19 July 2002]: Licences to export arms and other items whose export is controlled for strategic reasons are issued by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry acting through the Export Control Organisation.
Nigel Griffiths: The Farm Business Advice Service (FBAS) is one of the measures announced under the "Action Plan for Farming". published in March 2000. The action plan aims to move farming forward and help farmers improve the way they run their business.
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The spread of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in the spring and summer of 2001 saw the need to design an enhanced FBAS service for farmers who had compulsorily culled their livestock as a result of FMD control measures. This service was announced in June 2001.
In addition, the SBS is spending £30 million up until March 2004 on 96 Phoenix Development Fund projects in disadvantaged areas and among under-represented groups in all areas. So far the development fund has enabled the start-up of over 400 new enterprises and the creation or safeguarding of more than 1,600 jobs.
SBS is also supporting 46 Community Development Finance Initiative projects in disadvantaged areas. These CDFIs are receiving almost £20 million of support over the next two years. A number of the projects supported are researching new and innovative ways of providing last resort finance to disadvantaged communities.
Nigel Griffiths: In the public sector these include the Countryside Agency and the English Tourism Council, and in the private sector organisations, as diverse as the National Farmers Union (NFU), the Village Retail Services Association (ViRSA) and the British Association of Licensed Parks, Piers and Attractions (BALLPA).
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many new businesses in the environmental enterprise sector have been established with the help of resources from her Department in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) conferences and (b) seminars her Department has (i) organised and (ii) supported in the past five years aimed at stimulating new enterprises in rural areas; and what organisations have partnered her Department in these initiatives. 
Nigel Griffiths: Business Link Operators, which are part-funded by the DTI, have undertaken numerous local activities which have the effect either directly or indirectly of stimulating new enterprises in rural areas e.g. attendance at agricultural shows and participating in events to promote rural social enterprise.
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Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on basing the proposed waste electrical and electronic equipment directive on the principle of individual producer responsibility. 
The Government support the principle of individual producer responsibility, but believe that making this mandatory might impose disproportionate cost and administrative burdens on some firms, especially SMEs with little additional environmental gain. We therefore continue to support the common position text, which would allow a collective or an individual approach.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she has taken to ensure that the proposed waste electrical and electronic equipment directive is introduced in a way that is (a) beneficial to the environment and (b) cost-effective for the producer. 
Mr. Wilson: Studies undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Department show that the WEEE directive is likely to offer significant environmental benefits over current practice. A report was written in 1999 and updated this year. It is available on the DTI website.
We have negotiated hard in Brussels for as much flexibility as possible in the directive and will implement in the most cost-effective manner permitted by the final text, while maximising the environmental benefits. The Regulatory Impact Assessments already completed will help inform this. We will, of course, continue to consult widely.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what responsibility for the implementation of the waste electrical and electronic equipment directive into UK law will lie with (a) her Department and (b) the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 
Mr. Wilson: The Department has lead responsibility for negotiating this directive. We work very closely with other Government Departments, especially DEFRA. We have yet to make a decision on which Department will transpose the WEEE directive into UK law.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the way in which small firms present their accounts, following her recent announcements on audit practice. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: I announced on 17 July that I propose to raise the definition of a small company to the current EU maximum, benefiting some 15,000 companies who will no longer have to include a cash flow statement,
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and can produce simplified profit and loss account and balance sheet. I also propose that small companies should file their accounts with Companies House: the current option to file abbreviated accounts would be abolished.
Mr. Wilson: Both the Department and my colleagues in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are involved in the negotiation and implementation of a number of EC initiatives that are concerned with the eco-design of products. In addition, as part of their promotional effort to stimulate the adoption of waste minimisation and cleaner techniques within business, the Departments jointly sponsor the Envirowise programme to run workshops and publish design guides specifically to promote cleaner design.
At European level, a Commission Green Paper on the establishment of a framework of Integrated Product Policy (IPP) was published in February last year. This aims to improve the environmental performance of a wide range of products throughout their life cycle.
The Commission also published the first draft for a directive on the impact on the environment of electrical and electronic equipment, known as the EEE proposals, last year. These proposals aim to harmonise European requirements concerning the design of electrical and electronic products to minimise their overall impact on the environment.
In addition, the final negotiating stages of a directive on the waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) are currently taking place. This will encourage elements of eco-design by placing recycling costs on producers.
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