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Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to offer assistance to small businesses in rural areas to enable them to access broadband communications, as they become available. 
Mr. Alexander There are already a range of incentives to stimulate take up of ICT in the economy, notably 100 per cent capital allowance for ICT investment for small businesses and tax breaks for employees loaned a PC at home by their employer.
In addition, some of the £30 million UK broadband fund will be used by Regional Development Agencies and the devolved administrations assist SMEs in getting broadband. Further work is being carried out to encourage infrastructure-sharing by telecommunications companies to reduce the cost of rollout, cutting red tape which may
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be holding back deployment of satellite broadband services and aggregating broadband procurement by the public sector in order to provide guaranteed levels of demand in rural areas.
UK online for business covers the whole of the UK and has teams of business advisers in every part of the country based in Business Links run by the Small Business Service (and their equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). Advisers provide practical, tailored, impartial jargon free advice on a wide variety of e-business and ICT topics, including broadband, to rural businesses. Business advisers are involved in a number of projects with local businesses in rural areas to ensure that they are able to exploit the benefits of ICTs and broadband for commercial advantage.
Mr. Alexander [holding answer 21 May 2002:] Broadband can be delivered by a variety of technologies of which only digital subscriber lines are fixed to telephone exchanges. Broadband is available by satellite throughout the UK. Rollout of other technologies is a commercial decision for the companies concerned.
Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will estimate the percentage of the population unable to make use of (a) ISDN and (b) broadband at their home address in (i) Scotland, (ii) the UK and (iii) Dumfries and Galloway. 
Mr. Alexander: The Office of Telecommunications (Oftel) holds detailed information regarding the UK telecoms market. ISDN is available from every digital telephone exchange in the country, although it cannot be guaranteed to every customer because of a range of geographical and technical features. Oftel have not made an assessment of percentage availability, since it is heavily dependent on localised factors.
Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations her Department has received regarding the Enterprise Bill during the Committee stage of the Bill in the House. 
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Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the economic impact of the additional levy on the oil and gas industry announced in the Budget 2002. 
Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the impact on the amount of oil and gas that will be extracted from the UK continental shelf as a result of the imposition of the supplementary charge on the oil and gas industry. 
Mr. Wilson: The changes announced in his Budget by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer need to be considered as a carefully designed package of measures, with two key elementsthe 10 per cent supplementary charge and the generous 100 per cent investment allowance. I refer the hon. Member to the analysis of the likely effect of the measures proposed on new investment attached to the letter of 8 May from my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the right hon. Member for Fylde, a copy of which has been placed in the Libraries of the House. The economic impact will depend principally on the impact on investment.
Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the impact on the PILOT initiative and its targets of the supplementary charge on the oil and gas industry. 
Mr. Wilson: PILOT, the joint Government-oil and gas industry forum, has an extensive action programme to improve the industry's competitiveness. It is pursuing a number of visionary targets for 2010 and last year set interim production and investment targets for 2005. I expect PILOT to continue to monitor progress against these targets. The fiscal regime is one of many influences on the success of the industry in meeting them. The changes announced in his Budget by my right hon Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer need to be considered as a carefully designed package of measures, with two key elementsthe 10 per cent supplementary charge and the generous 100 per cent investment allowance.
Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the impact on the 20th licensing round of the supplementary charge on the oil and gas industry. 
Mr. Wilson: The 20th offshore licensing Round closed on 16 April, prior to the Chancellor's proposed changes to the North Sea fiscal regime in his Budget. A slightly higher proportion of blocks offered was applied for in the current Round as in the previous North Sea Round (the 18th).
Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress is being made with the plans to introduce a universal banking system into Post Offices; and if she will make a statement. 
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Mr. Alexander: Progress continues to be made and a lot of detailed work is being carried out on implementing universal banking services for delivery in advance of the migration of benefit payment to ACT from April 2003.
The Department for Work and Pensions, together with the Inland Revenue and the Northern Ireland Social Security Agency have agreed contractual terms with Post Office Limited for the provision of the Card Account and are working on implementation. The major High Street banks have also agreed that counter access to their basic bank accounts will also be made available at post offices and are in detailed discussions with Post Office Limited on implementation.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what consultations she has had with representatives of leisure and residential caravan park operators on the maximum retail price provisions for electricity supply which are due to come into force on 1 January 2003. 
Mr. Wilson: The Department received some 25 representations from right hon and hon Members on behalf of park operators. The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, which is responsible for the new arrangements, received over 300 representations and responses to its consultation papers on this subject and held discussions with the various trade organisations before finalising the new arrangements.
Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made by OFGEM in working with the leisure marine industry to produce guidelines for the implementation by marina operators of the maximum resale price provisions of the Utilities Act 2000. 
Mr. Wilson: Ofgem is aware of the particular concerns of the marina industry. I understand that it is currently drafting guidance which will assist the industry (as well as landlords and tenants) in understanding and implementing the revised rules. The material will be made available for comment within the next few weeks.
Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations (a) she and (b) the Competition Commission have received regarding competition in the Scottish dairy sector. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has since December 2000 received correspondence about the Competition Commission report on the supply of fresh processed milk in Scotland. Correspondence has also been received about the current operation of the dairy market in Scotland which has been forwarded to the Director General of Fair Trading. The Competition Commission has also received two letters about their report. Anyone with concerns about the operation of the market in Scotland should put them directly to the Director General of Fair Trading.
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