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Labour Market (Stafford)

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assistance his Department makes available to businesses and local government agencies seeking to (a) diversify the labour market in and (b) promote inward investment to Stafford. [106673]

Mr. Caborn: Some £280 million European Social Funding under Objective 3 is being made available for training-related activities in the West Midlands. These can be targeted particularly at the disadvantaged in the labour market, including those made redundant or with outdated skills.

My Department provides core funding for the inward investment activities of Advantage West Midlands. AWM works in partnership with InStaffs in Staffordshire and other local agencies to attract new investment from overseas and to support existing businesses.

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent assessment he has made of the opportunities for diversification of the labour market in Stafford. [106672]

Mr. Caborn: On 17 January I announced a team which will be drawn from local agencies to investigate the problems facing local businesses and communities in Stoke and North Staffordshire.

I am pleased to confirm that I have asked Advantage West Midlands (The Development Agency) to extend this work to include Stafford.

The first meeting of local partners and the team is on 26 January. I have asked for an interim report to be completed by 11 February.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is visiting the West Midlands on 25 February and has asked officials to see if it is possible to include a visit to Stafford in his programme.

25 Jan 2000 : Column: 205W

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will visit Stafford to meet representatives of local government agencies and businesses to discuss diversification of the labour market in Stafford and promotion of inward investment. [106674]

Mr. Caborn: I am always prepared to meet with colleagues to discuss such issues and I recognise the particular problems in Stafford resulting from the recent redundancies announced by Alstom.

My Department provides core funding for the inward investment activities of Advantage West Midlands (The Development Agency). AWM works in partnership with InStaffs in Staffordshire and other local agencies to attract new investment from overseas and to support existing businesses.

Alstom

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact of the restructuring by Alstom of its operations in Stafford on the local labour market. [106677]

Mr. Caborn: It is too early to assess the impact on Stafford's labour market of the proposed redundancies at Alstom. Officials from Staffordshire Training and Enterprise Council and the Employment Service will be meeting the company on 25 January. Following that meeting a clearer picture of the company's plans should emerge.

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what support his Department will make available to (a) Alstom, (b) the Employment Service and (c) the local authorities following the announcement of job losses at Alstom's Stafford sites. [106678]

Mr. Caborn: I understand that representatives of the Employment Service and Staffordshire Training and Enterprise Council are to meet with the Company on 25 January to determine the precise nature of the support package required for those people who may be made redundant at Alstom.

They will then consider with the local authorities and Advantage West Midlands whether to apply for additional support from the Government's Rapid Response Fund to supplement what they are currently able to offer redundant workers. These include guidance interviews, retraining and job search facilities.

Synchrotron

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what requests the Office of Science and Technology has received from the Wellcome Trust to host an open competition to decide the location of the new synchrotron. [105626]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 18 January 2000]: According to the records of the Office of Science and Technology there have been no formal requests from the Wellcome Trust on hosting an open competition to decide the location of the new synchrotron. However, this issue was raised by the Wellcome Trust in a number of meetings with the Office of Science and Technology early in 1999, specifically on the 19 January and on the 26 January. Later discussions with the Wellcome Trust concerning the location of the new synchrotron have

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focused on the outcome of the investment appraisal that was undertaken for the Office of Science and Technology in June 1999. This study concluded that the current CCLRC sites would be more cost effective than a "green-field" site.

Mirror Group

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received from other Government departments in respect of the cost of the inquiry into Mirror Group Newspapers. [106352]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 24 January 2000]: I have received no such representation.

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will place in the Library the representations he has received calling on him to conclude his Department's inquiry into Mirror Group on the grounds of cost. [106021]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 20 January 2000]: I have received no such representations.

TransTec

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what departmental scrutiny has been applied to the Department for Trade and Industry grant awarded to TransTec for new premises at Coleshill, Birmingham, in 1988 since it was awarded. [106345]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 24 January 2000]: The Department operates established procedures to verify that businesses comply with the conditions attached to payments of grant. These include visits to premises and project reports with independent certification. There is provision for grant to be reclaimed if the conditions are not met. Following newspaper allegations, the Department is inviting Mr. Ayriss and Mr. Dickinson in for interview concerning the circumstances surrounding grants to the Trans Tec group of companies.

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when his Department first received reports of the financial difficulties of TransTec. [106347]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 24 January 2000]: Following the announcement of the suspension of shares on 24 December 1999.

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the Government grants received by TransTec, since 1987. [106346]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 24 January 2000]: The Department's Selective Assistance database has no records of any grants or loans having been made to TransTec plc.

In order to give as full a reply as possible I asked officials to identify grants paid to subsidiary companies which, according to TransTec plc's Annual Report for 1998 principally affected the results of the Group and its assets in that year. The Department has not been able to establish whether these companies were subsidiaries of TransTec plc at the time offers and payments of grants were made.

The Department has no record in the database of any loans having been made to these companies.

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Companies from TransTec plc Annual Report who have had grant payments since 1 January 1987

CompanySchemeAmount paid (£)Date paid
Transfer Technology Ltd.LINK(15)50,6241994 to 1995
LINK(15)121,9391990 to 1992
GICP(16)164,5541988 to 1989
CA(17)4,3541989
GICP(16)153,7961987 to 1988
S7(18)90,0001987 to 1989
Elliott Plastic Components Ltd. (formerly Caradon Elliott Ltd.)S7(18)200,0001989 to 1991
A. L. Dunn & Co. Ltd.SFMP(19)29,7991987
B. S. K. Aluminium Ltd.S7(18)60,0001993 to 1995
S7(18)175,0001997
Plasmar Ltd.CA(17)3,7951991
CA(17)3,7231990
S7(18)75,0001988 to 1990
Amchem Co. Ltd.CA(17)1,1641990
SFI(20)29,2751987 to 1988
Marwin Production Systems Ltd.CA(17)4,0251990
Sarclad International Ltd.SPUR(21)111,2261993 to 1995
SFI(20)24,6501987

(15) LINK: Collaborative research

(16) GICP: General Industrial Collaborative Projects

(17) CA: Consultancy Initiative

(18) S7: Regional Selective Assistance (Section 7)

(19) SFMP: Support For Major Projects (S8)

(20) SFI: Support for Innovation

(21) SPUR: Support for Projects Under Research


In light of recent allegations I have asked officials to verify that for each of the grants listed in the table the conditions attached to the payment of grant have been complied with.

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the meetings and events that Ministers and officials of his Department attended at which directors and personnel of TransTec were present in (a) 1995, (b) 1996, (c) 1997, (d) 1998 and (e) 1999. [106351]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 24 January 2000]: No central record is maintained which could provide the information in the form requested.


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