14 Feb 2002 : Column 517W
11. Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions she has had with Communication Workers Union regarding projected job losses in the postal service. 
Ms Hewitt: While Ministers have had discussions with the Communication Workers Union on a range of issues, the cost-saving proposals announced by Consignia are an operational issue for the company in consultation with the unions.
Mr. Wilson: The chemical sector forms one of the north-west region's most important clusters. It accounts for 22 per cent. of the UK chemical industry. It contains the highest concentration in the country of the faster growing speciality and fine chemicals companies, supplying new markets such as electronics, pharmaceuticals and consumer products.
Mr. Wilson: As the hon. Member will be aware, the severe downturn in air travel following 11 September has resulted in a reduction in orders for new aircraft and a lower demand for aircraft repair and maintenance. This is inevitably having an adverse effect on the aerospace component manufacturing industry, which is likely to persist throughout 2002. However, all possible steps are being taken to restore passenger confidence and there are signs that this is starting to return. The Government believe that the long-term prospects for the industry remain good, and that market growth will return to its former level.
Mr. Wilson: Regulation of energy suppliers is for the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem). Ofgem has already, with our strong encouragement, put in place specific marketing and sales rules for suppliers that go beyond those in general consumer law, and will shortly
14 Feb 2002 : Column 518W
consult on extending these rules. Energywatch, the statutory consumer body established under the Utilities Act 2000, recently launched its "Stop Now!" campaign to combat unscrupulous sales practices. I wrote to all suppliers in November making clear that, if they do not address the problem of dishonest sales, those of us concerned with energy supply will need to look again at how best to protect consumers.
Alan Johnson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry met the Board of Advantage West Midlands to discuss region-wide issues such as manufacturing and the region's proposals to become a Manufacturing Beacon; clearly this will have an impact on Telford. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, and other DTI Ministers, also attend regular meetings of the RDA Chairs, including Advantage West Midlands, where a wide range of issues is discussed, including its broadband and technology cluster proposals.
17. Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions have taken place between her Department and the Department for Education and Skills on modifications to the research assessment exercise in higher education. 
Ms Hewitt: As mentioned in the Science and Innovation White paper "Excellence and Opportunity", my Department will monitor the modified guidance for the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise, and we shall be discussing the issues arising with the Department for Education and Skills, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
Ms Hewitt: I visited South Korea and Japan from 712 January and met existing and prospective investors in both individual and group meetings, including a meeting with senior representatives of the Japanese automotive industry in Tokyo.
The Invest UK teams in both South Korea and Japan organise a series of initiatives, including marketing programmes, company calls, seminars, company visits to the UK, and attendance at trade fairs, all aimed at encouraging companies to invest in the United Kingdom.
The attractions of the United Kingdom mean that this country remains the number one location for South Korean and Japanese foreign direct investment in the European Union. To maintain this position, in the face of difficult global economic conditions, Invest UK has intensified its efforts at attracting knowledge-driven, high value investments in the ICT, automotive, life sciences and financial services sectors.
14 Feb 2002 : Column 519W
Mr. Wilson: Since 1997 we have established a stable macro-economic framework to ensure the future competitiveness and productivity of British manufacturing. We have built on this basis with policies to promote the spread of best practice, encourage innovation, raise skills levels and improve the transfer of ideas from the science base.
Mr. Wilson: Manufacturing production is weak across the industrialised countries, including in the UK. The Government's policies are designed to assist the manufacturing sector improve its competitiveness and future prospects.
Ms Hewitt: The past lack of a common definition of social enterprise means that there is currently no reliable data on the contribution it makes to the UK economy. DTl's Social Enterprise Unit, working with academics and others, is reviewing existing research and identifying how best to map and evaluate social enterprise.
14 Feb 2002 : Column 520W
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she will answer the letters of 30 November 2001 and 10 January 2002 from the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West regarding nuisance fireworks. 
Mr. Wilson: Each proposed wind turbine installation is subject to some environmental evaluation prior to its construction. For proposed wind farms involving more than a single turbine, whether onshore or offshore, a full environmental impact assessment by an independent consultant is generally required.
A number of studies, conducted both within the DTI's Sustainable Energy Programme and outside, have looked in detail at environmental effects of wind farms. These include studies on noise, birds, other wildlife, visual impact, electromagnetic interference, and the cumulative effects of wind turbines on a locality.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|