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Company Directors

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many proceedings in the public interest for the disqualification of company directors (a) were brought and (b) resulted in a disqualification in each year since 1997; and how many disqualifications were of directors of companies with (i) less than and (ii) more than 250 employees. [143041]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Listed as follows are the total number of proceedings brought, in the public interest, for the disqualification of directors and the outcome in disqualification orders or undertakings.

ProceedingsbroughtNumber of disqualifications

The table shows the number of Disqualification Orders and Undertakings (2001–02 onwards) made under Section 6 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act.

On information obtained from redundancy payments; there are no figures for the number of employees for companies of disqualified directors and the answer to the (i) and (ii) could be compiled only at disproportionate cost.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Mr. McFall: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with her European counterparts on corporate social responsibility issues. [154096]

Mr. Timms: I met with the Italian Minister for Welfare in April last year as part of a bilateral seminar held in Rome where we signed a joint statement on Corporate Social Responsibility. Following that event, I met with my European counterparts at the CSR conference organised in Venice in November 2003 as part of the Italian Presidency. In addition I spoke at a CSR conference in Norway where I met my Norwegian counterpart. At official level the Department also keeps

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in touch with fellow members states through membership of the High Level Group of National Social Representatives on CSR.

Mr. McFall: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with industry representatives on corporate social responsibility issues. [154097]

Mr. Timms: I have regular meetings with representatives from business where CSR issues are discussed. These contacts include individual meetings with business leaders as well as CSR related conferences and events. In addition DTI officials keep in touch on CSR matters with business and business organisations such as Business in the Community and CBI.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether she has met representatives from the UN Global Compact to discuss the global future of corporate social responsibility. [154247]

Mr. Timms: I have not met representatives of the Global Compact but the Government support this valuable initiative of Kofi Annan the UN Secretary General. My officials and FCO colleagues have maintained a close and constructive relationship with the Global Compact team to help encourage and support further developments to ensure its full potential can be realised. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has contributed £105,331 to the costs of the Global Compact office over financial years 2002–04. The Department recently contributed £10,000 to an independent study commissioned by the team to assess the effectiveness of the initiative to help inform decisions about its future direction. The FCO has also contributed financially to Global Compact supported projects in China and South Africa. Through its participation in the donors' meetings in New York, the UK Mission at the UN has been closely involved in discussions and advice about the compact's future strategy and activities.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what consultations she has recently held with business leaders to identify priorities for action in Corporate Social Responsibility; what her priorities for action in CSR are; and what incentives she will provide to businesses to encourage them to comply with her Department's CSR guidelines. [154248]

Mr. Timms: I have regular meetings with business leaders where CSR issues are discussed.

The Government's priorities for action were set out in our Business and Society report published in May 2002. We intend to publish a further report identifying progress and outlining current priorities for Government in facilitating the spread of CSR practice.

The Government wish to see business take greater account of the social and environmental impact of its activities, so that CSR becomes part of normal practice. Our role is to provide the framework which stimulates business voluntarily to raise their performance beyond minimum legal standards. Any government interventions need to be carefully considered, well-designed and targeted. On that basis we will consider opportunities to increase and incentives adoption and reporting of CSR, including best practice guidance, and, where appropriate, through intelligent regulation and

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fiscal incentives. I expect to receive next month a report from a working group chaired by Clive Mather, Chairman of Shell UK, on the promotion of CSR skills in the UK, including consideration of the proposal for a CSR academy.

Credit Records

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to ensure that people are not disadvantaged through living at an address at which the previous occupants had poor credit records; and if she will make a statement. [153367]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Businesses, including credit reference agencies, holding personal data about individuals on their computer systems have to comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998. They must register with the Information Commissioner and comply with the principles of the Act. The Commissioner can take enforcement action against businesses who do not comply.

When a credit reference agency receives a legitimate request for information about an individual they can provide information about:

Agencies must not report information about other people who have lived at the same address but not at the same time as the individual or where it is otherwise reasonable to believe that they have no financial connection with the individual.

Any individual can ask for their credit reference file to be corrected if it contains information about other people with whom they have no financial connection or is otherwise incorrect.

Further information can be obtained from the Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

EU Export Subsidies

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the EU export subsidies whose removal would be of benefit to developing countries. [149109]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The export subsidies whose removal would be of benefit will vary according to a developing country's comparative advantage in agricultural production. That is why I would encourage all developing countries to engage with the Commission in discussing which export subsidies should be eliminated as part of this offer.

Export Assistance

Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how her Department (a) encourages and (b) assists UK businesses to export. [153865]

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Mr. Mike O'Brien: A key role of UK Trade and Investment (formerly British Trade International)—a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department of Trade and Industry—is to present the benefits of internationalising business as well as equipping firms with the information and capabilities to fulfil their export potential. UKTI encourages and assists business by offering a range of services to companies, details of which are contained in its current Departmental Report issued in May 2003 (Cm 5915). UKTI's Departmental Report for 2003–04 will be issued in April 2004. Copies of Departmental Reports are laid in the Libraries of the House.

Export Credits Guarantee Department

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the top five clients/companies, by value, of the Export Credits Guarantee Department for each of the last five years. [152981]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The information is as follows:






Customers are listed by the value of issue/renewed guarantees.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on her Department's assessment of the debt owed to the Export Credits Guarantee Department by other nations; what assessment has been made of how much of these debts

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can be recovered and from whom; how her Department plans to recover them; and what targets have been set for their recovery. [144833]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 18 December 2003]: ECGD claims payments resulting from sovereign default are generally recovered through the Paris Club of Official Creditors. Paris Club creditors act in concert to agree appropriate debt restructuring with countries in difficulty.

Through this route, ECGD usually receives between £300 million and £400 million per annum. As at 30 September 2003 there were agreements with 46 countries owing ECGD a total of £10 billion. ECGD expects to recover the majority of this debt together with additional moratorium interest.

It is expected that the unsustainable debt of the heavily indebted poor countries still remaining will be written off over the next few years.

ECGD makes provisions against loss. In preparing statutory resource accounts ECGD estimates the recoverable element of outstanding paid claims based on sound valuation principles and assumption methodologies that conform to best practice as recognised and used by the major financial institutions in assessing similar risks.

For non-Paris Club debt ECGD similarly makes a regular assessment of the likely recoverability of debt where default has occurred. It then sets targets accordingly. ECGD uses a wide range of strategies to recover such debt, in line with best market practice and focuses its resources accordingly.

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