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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the percentage change in real terms of the cost of travelling by (a) private car, (b) bus, (c) train and (d) aeroplane since (i) 1979 and (ii) 1997. 
Paul Clark [holding answer 13 March 2009]: Between 1979 and 2008 the real cost of motoring declined by 17 per cent., bus and coach fares increased by 55 per cent. and rail fares increased by 49 per cent. in real terms.
The costs of travelling by air are not available from the retail prices index. However, the cost of the average UK one-way air fare, including taxes and charges, covering domestic and international flights fell by 49 per cent. between 1997 and 2006, the latest date for which figures are available.
Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many (a) public relations and (b) media advisers his Department employed (i) in 1997 and (ii) on the most recent date for which figures are available. 
Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the number of sports facilities owned by industrial concerns which have closed in the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. 
6. Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps the Government is taking to assist the motor manufacturing industry and its associated businesses; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: We are in frequent dialogue with the automotive industry. The Automotive Assistance Programme (AAP) is now open for business and a seminar was held with industry and bank representatives on 11 March to explain the programme in detail. Following demand from the automotive sector for support under the Train to Gain scheme, the budget of £65 million has been increased substantially up to £100 million. Automotive firms are also eligible for wider help for business through the Enterprise Finance Guarantee, where appropriate, and Solutions for Business.
7. Alistair Burt: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what representations he has received on the provision of information to small businesses on his Departments initiatives to assist those businesses. 
Mr. Thomas: Business Link is the primary information channel on my Departments support measures for small businesses including Real Help. It provides both an online and face-to-face service. Over 940,000 businesses or individuals in England were assisted in 2008. We have regular meetings with business organisations on these and other matters.
8. Mrs. Lait: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions his Department has had with the private sector on the future ownership and management of Royal Mail. 
Mr. McFadden: The Department and our advisers have had discussions in recent weeks with a number of potential partners with experience of transforming a major business who are interested in entering into partnership with Royal Mail.
10. Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he plans to take to enable Royal Mail to provide mail delivery services on the same basis as its competitors. 
Mr. McFadden: Royal Mail is in a unique position in the postal services market. It is the only company able to deliver to every address in the country every day of the week99 per cent. of all letters are delivered by Royal Mail.
That is why it is important to modernise Royal Mail rather than simply allow it to decline. The new Postal Services Bill makes it clear that the overriding duty of the regulator in respect of post is to secure the provision of a universal postal service.
9. Mr. Baron: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent progress has been made in delivering financial assistance and loan guarantees to businesses. 
11. Natascha Engel: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if his Department will expedite assistance to industrial projects which require bank loans of £50 million or more. 
12. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps his Department plans to take to assist UK manufacturers to obtain orders as a result of the outcomes of the low-carbon industrial summit. 
Ian Pearson: The Government set out their vision to make the UK the best place to locate and grow a low carbon business on 6 March. A programme of work is under way and we will publish a Low Carbon Industrial Strategy in the summer.
We are making sure the UK is a leader in the development and production of low carbon vehicles, that low carbon innovative companies are supported through the Technology Strategy Board, Carbon Trust, Energy Technologies Institute, universities and regional development agencies, and that we have a strong renewables and civil nuclear supply chain industry.
15. Mr. Dunne: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent progress has been made in the delivery of financial assistance and loan guarantees to businesses in the West Midlands. 
Ian Pearson: The Advantage Transition Bridge Fund has approved loans of over £7 million to 42 businesses employing over 2,700 people and over £6 million in Selective Financial Investment was distributed in grants in the West Midlands in the last financial year.
16. Andrew George: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps his Department plans to take to improve consumer protection for customers of banks. 
17. Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent discussions he has had with business organisations on the availability of finance for businesses; and if he will make a statement. 
In particular, the Small Business Forum and the Small Business Finance Forum meet frequently and discuss a range of issues affecting businesses throughout the United Kingdom, including access to finance. Membership of each includes the CBI, IoD, BCC, FSB and FPB. Additionally, Regional Ministers host regular economic councils to ensure that the issues and concerns of each region are heard and acted upon where appropriate.
Mr. Bone: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will bring forward proposals to enable the Redundancy Payments Office to pay statutory redundancy payments to workers in circumstances where companies which continue to trade are unable to make such payments. 
Mr. McFadden: There are already statutory provisions in place that enable the RPO to pay employees who have obtained a tribunal award for redundancy if the employer fails to pay. The RPO also has discretion to offer financial assistance to employers who are unable to meet the lump sum redundancy payment at once without jeopardising other jobs, without the need for a tribunal award, when approached by an employer, employee or employment tribunal.
Ian Pearson: Overall, industry output was 0.4 per cent. down in 2008 compared with 2007. Orders however fell by 19 per cent. compared with 2007. Private new housing orders fell by 43 per cent. and private commercial orders fell by 28 per cent. However public non-housing orders rose by 26 per cent. (education, health and the Olympics featuring strongly) and infrastructure rose by 17 per cent.
Government continue their frequent discussions with the construction industry on the key issues the sector is facing. As the figures above indicate, public sector spending on construction is highly important.
Mr. McFadden [holding answer 13 March 2009]: Because a debt management plan (DMP) is an informal agreement between a debtor and his creditors consequently there is no official record of their numbers. There is a multiplicity of both public and private sector providers in this area, but in view of the scarcity of information available, no attempt has been made to estimate numbers.
The Consumer Credit Counselling Service, the biggest provider of DMPs in the third sector, set up 12,500 DMPs in the first six months of 2008 and are due to publish their full 2008 figures later this month.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how much has been claimed in reimbursable expenses by special advisers in his Department in 2008-09 to date. 
Mr. McFadden: Costs incurred on reimbursable expenses in 2008-09, will be available only when the Department's resource accounts are fully audited and laid before Parliament. This is expected to be before the 2009 summer recess.
Mr. Vara: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many public consultations his Department has conducted in the last 12 months; how long each consultation was open for; how many responses were received in each case; and what the cost of conducting each consultation was. 
Mr. McFadden: The number of public consultations conducted between February 2008 and January 2009 was 36. This includes those relating to the energy sector up to 3 October when the Department of Energy and Climate Change was formed and responsibility for energy issues was transferred to that Department. Consultations were open for at least 12 weeks, in line with the code of practice, except in a small number of cases where ministerial approval was gained for a shorter period. The number of responses received ranged from zero to several hundred. Providing the costs of conducting the consultations could be done only at disproportionate cost.
Ian Stewart: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what his Department's budget for scientific advice and research is in 2008-09; for what purposes the equivalent budget for 2007-08 was used; and how many people employed in his Department have a science or engineering degree. 
Mr. McFadden: This Department does not have a specific budget for scientific research. It does have a Chief Scientific Adviser and an Assistant Chief Scientific Adviser with secretarial support. The BERR budget for this unit is £200,000 in 2008-09. The unit did not exist prior to 1 April 2008.
Andrew Miller: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps his Department is taking to support the British manufacturing industry during the economic downturn; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: The Government have acted to help industry through the current economic downturn, by boosting capital and liquidity in the market. In addition, the Government have set up a £2.3 billion Automotive Assistance Programme that is specifically aimed at supporting the automotive sector, and its supply chain.
We are specifically supporting manufacturing with measures such as the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), which since April 2008 has helped nearly 6,000 companies achieve cost savings and increased business worth over £200 million. The recent Manufacturing Strategy builds strongly on this, with £150 million of support for UK manufacturing, helping industry to: seize the opportunities of the low carbon economy; significantly increase apprenticeships; and take advantage of new markets in the global economy.
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