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Joint Export Promotion Directorate

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) DTI, (b) FCO, (c) other Government Departments, (d) secondees and (e) other staff work within the Joint Export Promotion Directorate; and if she will make a statement. [78113]

Ms Hewitt: The Joint Export Promotion Directorate no longer exists. It is incorporated into British Trade International (BTI) in May 1999. BTI is the joint DTI

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and FCO body responsible for trade development and promotion of inward investment. The breakdown of staff currently working for British Trade International is as follows:

Number of staff
DTI (HQ)704
FCO (HQ)52
OGD plus Government Office162
Secondees75
Overseas in staff years1,522
UK161

Process Improvement Master Class

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what (a) financial and (b) other support was provided for the Process Improvement Master Class in (i) 1998–99, (ii) 1999–00 and (iii) 2000–01; what budget there is for 2001–02; and if she will make a statement. [78262]

Ms Hewitt: The Process Improvement Master Class (PIMC) is one of the products offered by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Industry Forum, whose remit is to help small and medium enterprises improve their productivity. PIMC was developed for the automotive sector, but has also been used in the aerospace sector.

The amount of financial support provided for PIMC by my Department is shown in the table:

# million
1998–991.391
1999–20001.613
2000–012.298
2001–021.317

My Department also provided a secondee, at HEO level, to SMMT Industry Forum over this period.

Productivity Gap

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the progress she is making on putting policies in place to narrow the productivity gap relative to other industrialised countries. [75912]

Ms Hewitt: Following the reviews of my Department's priorities and structure and business support, major changes in the Department took place in April this year geared to focusing policies more effectively on raising the UK's competitiveness and productivity, in particular by focussing on successful businesses, world class science and innovation, and fair markets,

As part of the evidence base used to monitor progress I have also published on 15 October-the XProductivity and competitiveness indicators—update 2002". This publication benchmarks the UK's performance in each of the five drivers of productivity against that of our competitors.

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Rural Transfer Advisors

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many rural transfer advisors are in place; what plans she has to increase this number; what their objectives are; who is managing them; and if she will make a statement. [77484]

Mr. Timms: There are currently 31 rural transfer advisers (28 full time equivalent.) They have been appointed by Post Office Limited (POL) to prevent avoidable closures in the rural network. Rural transfer advisers are employees of POL Staffing levels are a matter for POL, dti Department of Trade and Industry

Small Business Service

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle), of 22 October 2002, Official Report, column 248W, on the Small Business Service, which of the targets to be achieved by 31 October have been met. [78434]

Nigel Griffiths: The SBS launched the XBridges" community development venture fund early in May 2002.

The six Investment Readiness demonstration projects were under way by September 2002.

A National Start-up Forum has been established and considered an outline Action Plan at its first meeting in September. The forum will consider a final version at its second meeting in November with a view to publication of the Action Plan in December.

The SBS strategy for the years 2003–04 to 2005–06 will be published in November.

Trade Fairs (Promotion)

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what programmes she has to promote and disseminate information about forthcoming trade fairs and exhibitions in the UK to potential trade visitors from overseas; and how much such programmes have cost in the past 12 months. [77026]

Ms Hewitt: Trade Partners UK (TPUK) promotes forthcoming trade fairs and exhibitions in the UK through the trade fairs and exhibitions website, which is managed by Exhibition Audience Audit (EAA) and sponsored by TPUK at a cost of #2,025 per quarter (#8,100 per year). The website offers a comprehensive listing of all the consumer, public, industrial and trade exhibitions to be held in major venues around the UK.

The monthly TPUK magazine Overseas Trade, distributed to some 36,000 business readers around the world, includes a page of diary dates with a specific section on UK-based events. The annual budget for the magazine is #240,000.

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The TPUK Inward Mission Scheme is another effective way of strengthening UK activity overseas. It enables overseas buyers, journalists and business leaders to visit the UK's trade fairs, exhibitions and individual businesses. The annual cost of this scheme is some #400,000.

TRIPS Implementation

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans the Government have to extend the TRIPS implementation deadlines for all developing countries. [78204]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 30 October 2002]: The TRIPS agreement lays down procedures for extending implementation deadlines for the Least Developed Countries (LDC). The general implementation deadline is 2005 but an extension to 2016 was agreed for pharmaceutical products at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha. There is no specific mechanism for extending TRIPS implementation deadlines for all developing countries.

The UK Government work through the EU on issues relating to the TRIPS agreement. The UK Government support the development of objective criteria to form the basis upon which extensions of TRIPS transition periods should be agreed. The UK Government therefore support the introduction into TRIPS of a mechanism for extending transition periods for individual developing countries.

Work Permits (IT Workers)

Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many work permit holders given leave to enter the United Kingdom in (a) 2000 and (b) 2001 were employed in the IT sector; and what proportion of IT workers employed were admitted for the purpose of taking up a job in the sector. [77936]

Beverley Hughes: I have been asked to reply.

The total number of work permits issued in respect of information technology (IT) workers in 2000 and 2001 is 18,257 and 26,870 respectively, of which 12,548 and 15,976 respectively were issued prior to entry to the United Kingdom. Labour Force Survey figures for the total number of people employed in computer services are 500,000 in 2000 and 547,000 in 2001.

Pharmacy Dispensing Contracts

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the average value of a pharmacy dispensing contract when traded between owners has been in the last two years. [77239]

Jacqui Smith I have been asked to reply. The information requested is not collected centrally.