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Dr. Howells: The first stage of the Insolvency Service's quinquennial review has now been completed. I am pleased to say that the review found the Insolvency Service customer-focused and responsive. The standard of the service's work has improved significantly and is well regarded. The service has exceeded or met most of its performance objectives. It has contributed to the achievement of wider Government objectives and is effective in providing policy advice to Ministers. Its standards of customer service are very high. The service has taken a proactive approach to customer satisfaction with many initiatives to identify and meet customer needs. This has been recognised by awards including Chartermark, Investors in People and Plain Language Commission accreditation for its leaflets.
The Insolvency Service will continue as an executive agency of the DTI. The current functions of the service form a coherent block that benefit from being managed as a whole. The review found that agency status was widely thought to have worked well.
Customer needs and continuing efficiency will remain priorities for the service and will be taken forward in response to the Government's modernising agenda. The review supports the service in meeting these objectives by making recommendations relating to options for funding, benchmarking, selective tendering, reorganisation, and clarifying its advisory role. These include:
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Identifying benchmarking partners to ensure The Service's operations continue to offer quality and cost-effective services.
Through selective tendering inviting private sector partners to carry out some of the service's investigation work relating to potential director disqualification.
Addressing issues of recruitment and retention by investigating the scope for centralising some administrative functions in areas of lower growth and high unemployment, taking advantage of IT and modern communications technology. Reviewing the scope for using new technology to reduce the costs of accommodation, achieve economies of scale in administrative work and at the same time get closer to customers by remote working and the establishment of regional centres of expertise.
Working to ensure the service's role in the area of advice to business and individuals is appropriately defined and joined up with those who already provide this advice in government and elsewhere.
Continued development of the service's research function to enhance policy advice and operational strategy.
Reviewing the continuing need for the Secretary of State (rather than authorised professional bodies) to authorise individual Insolvency Practitioners, thereby freeing the service to oversee the regulatory framework for Insolvency Practitioners and effectiveness of their Recognised Professional Bodies.
The developer has been exploring with interested parties the application of the heat from it for a community heating scheme supplying the Millbrook area of Southampton where it could provide heat for council housing, schools and local businesses and is committed to facilitating that.
The proposal is fully consistent with the new requirement that developers considering new power station proposals explore opportunities to use combined heat and power (CHP) and energy policy clearance has therefore been given. CHP can make a major contribution to reducing emissions as well as bringing other benefits such as increased efficiency.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proposals he has to assist small businesses with management and ITC needs; and in what ways these will help small businesses in Coventry. 
Ms Hewitt: The SBS provides business support, advice, or access to experts, through the Business Link partnerships on every aspect of support a person might need to run their own business, including: management; innovation and technology; business planning; exporting;
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quality; employment issues; training and development; design; information and communication technology and e-commerce.
Improved management skills are a recognised requirement among a large number of businesses and a range of support and initiatives are available in Coventry through the Business Link and its partners. ICT services figure prominently in the BL plan. Building on the DTI's UK Online for Business development, they currently have a network of UK4B centres in the area, including Coventry. This support will cover ICT needs for the day to day running of a business and explore the potential for E Commerce.
Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if the MOX fuel assemblies owned by the Swiss nuclear company NOK are to be re-imported into the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement; 
Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. is responsible for the shipment of Belgonucleaire/Cogema manufactured mixed oxide fuel to Japan. 
Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much sugar by weight and value was exported from each nation covered by the Everything But Arms proposals to (a) the United Kingdom and (b) the European Union. 
Mr. Caborn [holding answer 22 January 2001]: EU tariffs on imports of sugar are set at a prohibitively high level. Although they have been progressively decreasing as a result of the Uruguay round, additional safeguard duties ensure that imports cannot undercut the EU support price. Therefore the vast majority of sugar from developing countries that does enter the EU does so in the form of duty-free quotas under two preferential
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arrangements, the sugar protocol and the special preferential sugar arrangement. The sugar protocol quotas are fixed, the special preferential sugar quotas vary annually.
|Sugar protocol||Special preferential sugar (2000-01)|
(18) Uganda is a signatory to the protocol but does not have a quota. This is so that if the other signatories are unable to fill their quotas, Uganda can be invited to make up the shortfall.
As for value, there are guaranteed minimum prices for imports of sugar under both these access arrangements related to EU intervention prices. However it is difficult to be precise across the whole of the EU, since importers may (and some do) pay a premium on top of the guaranteed price. This is a commercial decision for the importers and companies concerned. As an indication, the world sugar price (based on spot prices for 18 January 2001) is some 264 euros per tonne, raw and white. EU intervention prices are 646 euros per tonne for white sugar (UK) and 524 euros per tonne for raw sugar, about two and a half times the world price.
Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry from which non-Everything But Arms countries sugar can be imported into an EBA nation and then re-exported to the European Union at the EBA tariff rate. 
Mr. Caborn [holding answer 22 January 2001]: None, legally. The EU's "Rules of Origin", which apply to those developing countries eligible for trade preferences under the EU's generalised system of preferences (GSP) scheme, preclude this type of carousel trade.
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