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Hawley Group

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will make a statement about the establishment of the Review of the Engineering Council by the Hawley Group; [114130]

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Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 10 March 2000]: I refer to the written answer I gave on 21 December 1999, Official Report, columns 463-66W. The first stage of the review was completed at the end of January with the publication of the Hawley Group Stage I Report. My noble Friend Lord Sainsbury and the Minister with responsibility for lifelong learning, my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North (Mr. Wicks) have welcomed the report and congratulated Dr. Hawley on the progress of the review. A copy of the report has been placed in the Library of the House.

The proposition for the review was endorsed at a meeting in November between Lord Sainsbury and a wide range of senior representatives of the engineering community. Although some of those present expressed a wish to see more industrial representation in the membership of the Group, the large majority supported Lord Sainsbury's view that for the Group to be effective there should be a minimum number of members. It was also recognised that Dr. Hawley's experience as a leading industrialist would be highly valuable in leading the Group.

My noble Friend Lord Sainsbury has received a small number of representations from individuals and bodies on various issues relating to the review and some of those who have responded to Dr. Hawley have copied their replies to him. He has also had discussions with his counterpart in DfEE. Other Government Departments have contributed to the review process at official level. I understand also that following the extensive first stage consultation exercise Dr. Hawley has received nearly 100 detailed responses from a range of individuals and organisations. These are providing helpful contributions towards the Group's continuing work.

Social Enterprise

Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the role of social enterprises in overcoming social exclusion; and if he will make a statement. [114635]

Mr. Byers: The Government recognise the important contribution role that social enterprises have to play in the nation's economy, including helping to overcome problems of social exclusion. They can be effective at developing services which the private and public sectors may be unable or unwilling to provide. Social enterprises can also be valuable in engaging local communities in economic activities that they would otherwise not have undertaken. Some estimates put the number of people employed in the not for profit sector nationally as high as 2.6 million.

The Social Exclusion Unit's Policy Action Team's (PAT 3) Report "Enterprise and Social Exclusion" which was published on 2 November 1999, included recommendations on the role of social enterprises in encouraging enterprise in disadvantaged groups and communities. The Small Business Service (SBS) is taking forward the Report's recommendations about support for social enterprises and about enhancing the potential of these businesses.

The SBS's Social Inclusion Unit is working with the British Bankers Association and Social Enterprise London to produce guidance about the sector for banks as well as

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Business Links and other support organisations. The Unit will also be participating in a study visit to Spain in April to examine approaches to supporting social enterprises in that country.

On 10 November 1999 I announced the establishment of a national Phoenix Fund, with a budget of £30 million over three years. The Phoenix Fund will support entrepreneurship in deprived areas and respond to issues raised in the PAT 3 Report. It will be open to social enterprises as well as other businesses. The Phoenix Fund will provide funding for:

    support for new and existing Community Finance Initiatives;

    a development fund for innovative ways of supporting enterprise in deprived areas.

My Department is currently considering ways of developing the Fund for the benefit of businesses.

Business Volunteer Mentoring Association

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how much money has been paid in the current financial year to the Business Volunteer Mentoring Association; and to what use it has been put; [114391]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 13 March 2000]: The Business Volunteer Mentoring Association initiative is being piloted by the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies, supported by this Department. The aim is to attract 1,000 volunteers, drawn from all sections of the business community to provide mentoring support to pre and early start-up businesses.

For this financial year, the NFEA and local partnerships have been paid £100K to cover their costs in setting up and developing the initiative on the ground.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to introduce a Communications Bill covering telecommunications; and what the nature and timetable of the consultation process will be, following the revision of the Utilities Bill. [114473]

Mr. Byers: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and I propose to publish a White Paper later this year setting out the Government's proposals for reform of the framework of communications legislation. This will include proposals for changing both the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Acts as a basis for legislation when parliamentary time allows. We expect to consult on proposed changes both before and after publication of the White Paper.


Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what (a) leave and (b) payment entitlements employers are required to give male and female employees after they have adopted a child. [114841]

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Mr. Alan Johnson: The Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999 confer a right for employees who adopt a child on or after 15 December 1999 to take parental leave from work to care for the child. The right applies to any employee who has completed one year's qualifying service with his or her employer; the amount of leave provided for is thirteen weeks' leave for each parent. This has to be taken over the first five years after the child is placed with the parents for adoption.

Employees can take the leave in accordance with arrangements agreed with the employer through a workforce or collective agreement. If there is no agreement in place, the fallback scheme provided for in the Regulations applies. That provides for an employee to take up to four weeks' leave in a year. This leave can be taken at the time of the placement provided the notice provisions are followed.

The leave is unpaid. We will be encouraging employers to build on the minimum standard as part of the Government's commitment to help employees achieve a better balance between their work and the rest of their lives.

KONVER Programme

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has had with his EU counterparts concerning the KONVER programme. [114781]

Mr. Alan Johnson: The KONVER Programme II Initiative is aimed to accelerate the diversification of economic activity in areas heavily dependent on the defence industry. It was operated from 1994-99 and was preceded by the KONVER I initiative which operated during 1993. The programme will not be renewed and there have been no recent ministerial discussions concerning it.

Postal Services Commission

Mr. Quinn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement about the membership of the Postal Services Commission. [115479]

Mr. Byers: Mr. Graham Corbett is being appointed as the Chairman of the Postal Services Commission (PSC). He will start work on 1 April when the PSC takes up its functions and duties under the Postal Services Regulations 1999. It is anticipated that he will be appointed as Chairman of the statutory body of the same name that is expected to be created following the passing of the Postal Services Bill currently before Parliament.

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