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Miss Melanie Johnson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has had meetings with steel industry representatives and trade unions which represent steel industry workers, about a wide range of issues.
Alan Johnson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced plans at the TUC Conference to review the entire operation of the Employment Relations Act 1999 and to legislate in this Parliament if necessary. We are also consulting, or are about to, on other aspects of employment legislation, including TUPE and the introduction of new rights on discrimination at work.
12. Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the effects of Consignia reform plans on (a) postal jobs in Wales and (b) the postal service in Wales. 
14. Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the contribution of the regional development agencies, Government offices and the Small Business Service to the development of child care services as part of economic regeneration and enterprise development in the last 12 months. 
Nigel Griffiths: This important matter was raised with all RDA chairmen on 4 April. DTI officials have since met with the east midlands RDA who are taking a lead on how the provision of child care might be boosted.
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31. Mr. Purchase: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations she has received from the UK tyre-building industry about international competition; and if she will make a statement. 
Nigel Griffiths: The Department has received representations from a number of hon. Members and the major tyre producers in the UK. My hon. Friend the Minister for Employment and the Regions will meet a delegation from the Parliamentary Motor Tyre Group in the near future to discuss the issue further.
Ms Hewitt: Improving UK competitiveness involves business, employees and consumers as well as Government. The Government have created a stable economic environment in which business can prosper, a climate for enterprise and the right framework for investment. We delivered low inflation, the lowest long-term interest rates for 35 years and consistent policies on tax and regulation. Last week I announced a series of changes to give my own Department a clear emphasis on enterprise, innovation and competition so that it is better focused on the need to close the UK's productivity gap with its competitors.
Ms Hewitt: The main aim of Smart is to stimulate technological innovation to increase the competitiveness of small and medium sized businesses, rather than to increase productivity. The independent evaluation of Smart this year found that as a result of their awards 77 per cent. of participants improved the quality of their products, services and processes, 26 per cent. reduced costs and 71 per cent. improved their market position.
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Mr. Alexander: Broadband services by one or more of ADSL, cable or wireless technologies are available to 6060 per cent. of households in the UK. Satellite services, which potentially can offer coverage of the entire country, are beginning to become available. We have established a £30 million fund to help extend affordable broadband services to areas where they are not currently available.
Mr. Alexander: The Government will shortly set out their strategy for making the broadband market more extensive and competitive. Regional Development Agencies and the devolved administrations are already preparing plans for innovative projects, under the £30 million fund to extend broadband networks announced on 9 October.
Alan Johnson: Officials at the Department of Trade and Industry work continuously with regional and national partners to assess the prospects for all sectors of industry. In addition, the North West Development Agency is preparing a report assessing the impact of the events of 11 September and its aftermath on the economy of the region and identifying possible remedial measures.
21. Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, what assessment she has made of the change in the compliance cost of regulation for businesses with fewer than five employees since 1997. 
Nigel Griffiths: The information required could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost. However, the Government are working to ensure that the compliance cost of regulation is kept to a minimum for both small and large businesses.
Mr. Alexander: The Government are committed to the maintenance of a nationwide network of post offices and have placed a formal requirement on the Post Office to maintain the rural network and to prevent any avoidable closures of rural post offices.
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Alan Johnson: A number of RDAs are operating, or overseeing the development of venture capital funds in their regions. These funds are designed to target particular sectors of the SME market or geographical areas within their region, for example in the West Midlands there is the Advantage Technology Fund, in the North East the North East Seed Capital Fund and in Yorkshire and the Humber the South Yorkshire Investment Fund.
24. Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the impact on the aerospace industry of the reduction in the number of passengers since 11 September. 
Mr. Wilson: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given earlier to my hon. Friends the Members for Wythenshawe and Sale, East (Paul Goggins) and for Caerphilly (Mr. David) on 29 November 2001, Official Report, columns 108788.
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