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Nigel Griffiths: I meet small business representative organisations on a regular basis to discuss small business growth, including the British Chambers of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry, the Federation of Small Business, the Small Business Council, and the Ethnic Minority Business Forum.
In May I launched a consultation on a Comprehensive Strategy for Business Start-Ups in a drive to boost the enterprise culture and encourage more people to set up their own business. The strategy includes proposals for a new package of measures to support first-time entrepreneurs and growing businessesparticularly those from under-represented groups and disadvantaged parts of
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the countryand proposals to reduce the barriers facing start-ups. The consultation period will run until the end of July 2002.
Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how the Government defines a small business; and what (a) guidance has been given and (b) legislation is in place regarding the encouragement of small business growth. 
Small firm: 049 employees (includes micro)
Medium firm: 50249 employees.
A balance sheet total of not more than £1.4 million
Not more than 50 employees.
A balance sheet total of not more than £5.6 million
Not more than 250 employees.
cutting the small companies rate of corporation tax from 23 per cent. to 19 per cent. and introducing a starting rate which we are now cutting from 10 per cent. to zero;
introducing a 10p starting rate of income tax;
making 40 per cent. first year capital allowances permanent; and
introducing measures to ease the impact of VAT on small business.
Nigel Griffiths: The number of VAT registrations and de-registrations is the best official measure of business start-ups and closures. VAT data do not capture much of the activity of the very smallest firms that operate under the VAT registration threshold (turnover of £52,000 at 1 April 2000). The latest data available are those for 2000.
|Start-ups: VAT registrations 19962000|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||11,315||11,825||11,820||11,635||11,975|
|East of England||16,140||18,270||17,920||17,080||18,420|
|Closures: VAT De-registrations 19962000|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||12,000||12,250||11,350||12,295||12,755|
|East of England||15,600||15,750||15,200||16,515||17,455|
Business Starts and Closures: VAT Registrations and De-registrations
19802000, Small Business Service
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Mr. Wilson: Responsibility for energy security under the law is shared by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Ofgem. My right hon. Friend is responsible for setting the overall regulatory framework for the supply of gas and electricity. A key part of that framework is set out in the Electricity Act 1989 and the Gas Act 1986. These provide that in carrying out their functions the Secretary of State and Ofgem shall have regard to the need to secure that all reasonable demands in Great Britain for electricity and (so far as it is economical to do so) for gas are met.
Under this legislation, the powers of the Secretary of State and Ofgem relating to security of supply are mainly exercised through their licensing functions. My right hon. Friend has laid down Standard Licence Conditions which apply to all classes of licensees. Power to modify these rests with Ofgem, with reference to the Competition Commission if a company and Ofgem cannot agree. My right hon. Friend has a power to veto agreed modifications. Enforcement of licence conditions is for Ofgem.
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construction and settlement of disputes about access to pipelines. She also has general responsibility for gas regulation and for strategic international issues including European policy, and hence for security of supply issues falling within these areas. There are also provisions under HSE's Gas Safety (Management) Regulations 1996 and under the Electricity Supply Regulations 1988 which provide for maintaining security of supply.
The Electricity Act 1989 gives my right hon. Friend powers to require particular measures to be taken by licence holders in the event of an electricity supply emergency. The Government may also use the powers contained in the Energy Act 1976 and the more general powers in the Emergency Powers Act 1920, which is the responsibility of the Home Office.
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proposed Liabilities Management Authority. Deloitte and Touche has invited partners and staff at Andersens in the UK to join Deloitte and I understand that arrangement is currently being implemented. The Deloitte's team will be led by David Wadsworth, a long-standing partner at Deloitte.
Mr. Wilson: BNFL announced its results for 200102 on 16 July 2002. The company reported a loss after tax and exceptional items of £2,090 million, caused primarily by exceptional charges of £1.9 billion relating to a review of strategy for historic waste management and £375 million for the early closure of the Magnox nuclear power stations Calder Hall and Chapelcross. Before tax and exceptional items, the company made a profit of £22 million.
BNFL also announced a net asset deficit of some £1.85 billion. However, the Company has a strong cash position. Further, in November 2001 my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced proposals to establish a Liabilities Management Authority (LMA) which will take on financial responsibility for the nuclear legacy liabilities. The Government are committed to pushing ahead with the proposed LMA at the earliest opportunity and published on 4 July 2002 a White Paper "Managing the Nuclear Legacy" which, among other things, sets out in more detail the plans for the LMA.
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