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Mr. Healey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on his policy of support for industrial clusters. 
Ms Hewitt: The Government recognise the importance of clusters and networks and are working closely with the RDAs to identify and remove barriers to their growth and development. In the White Paper "Opportunity for all in a world of change", published on 13 February, the Government set out their proposals to promote the growth of successful clusters by asking the RDAs to develop strategies for success for their regions, building on their existing strengths. They will do so with the assistance of a clusters map and consultants' report, "UK Business Clusters: A First Assessment", which was also published on 13 February.
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Government funding for cluster development will continue to be provided to RDAs via the regional innovation fund. Continued work on clusters will be undertaken by Lord Sainsbury's clusters policy steering group.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answer of 23 January 2001, Official Report, column 499W, when the index of regulation on small business will be published. 
Mr. Byers: When a number of outstanding issues have been resolved.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post offices closed in (a) the third quarter of 2000-01 and (b) cumulatively in 2000-01. 
Mr. Byers [holding answer 12 February 2001]: I refer the right hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for South-West Hertfordshire (Mr. Page) on 14 February 2001, Official Report, column 136W.
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he is taking to deal with the difficulties faced by the textile industry in the United Kingdom. 
Ms Hewitt: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced a package of support for the textiles and clothing industry in the form of a 12-point plan on 6 June 2000. This was an initial response to the report of the textile and clothing strategy group and included:
Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the programme of visits to central and eastern Europe planned for Ministers in his Department. 
Ms Hewitt: My noble Friend the Minister for Science will visit Poland on 19-20 February. The overseas visit programme for DTI Ministers for the second half of this year is currently under consideration.
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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson), will be visiting Lithuania in March on trade and investment issues.
Mr. Purchase: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received from Goodyear Wolverhampton in respect of Government assistance; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Hewitt: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has received no representations from Goodyear in Wolverhampton in respect of Government assistance. Currently, the management and unions at Goodyear are involved in discussions that offer the prospect of improving the cost base of the plant.
Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on trends in the trade balance with the European Union. 
Mr. Caborn: The EU is the most important market for UK exports of goods and services. The EU accounts for over 50 per cent. of total UK exports. During 2000, the UK's bilateral trade (in goods) with the rest of the EU was broadly in balance. This contrasts with a modest deficit which prevailed for much of the 1990s.
Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what resources are available to enforce the working time directive. 
Mr. Alan Johnson: The working time regulations, which implement the European working time directive, provide for the entitlements to daily, weekly and in-work rest and paid annual leave to be enforced through the Employment Tribunals. The working time limits are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities. There is a network of local authority enforcement officers who enforce the working time regulations and other health and safety legislation. The HSE have regulatory teams based throughout the country, which include specialist working time officers who work solely on working time enforcement. Any significant risks to health and safety revealed by their investigations are referred to HSE inspectors.
Ms Rosie Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he is taking in relation to access to offshore oil and gas infrastructure to promote exploration and development in the United Kingdom continental shelf. 
Mr. Hain: I have today placed in the Library of the House a copy of a consultation document from my Department dealing with access to oil and gas infrastructure, which:
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provides informal guidance which the industry has sought to meet a requirement of the 1998 gas directive to publish main commercial conditions for access to onshore gas terminals;
We believe it is important to establish whether there are any barriers to development of new and marginal fields and, if so, to address them. The consultation on the effectiveness of the industry's voluntary code of practice gives an opportunity to see if the negotiation and level of third party tariffs is causing problems. If, as a result of this greater clarity, future tariffs are better aligned with costs, there will be better use of the UK's oil and gas infrastructure, which will increase the exploitation of our reserves, enhancing security of supply for consumers.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Jones), of 15 January 2001, Official Report, column 79W, if he will break down by each country of residence the number of pensioners living abroad who receive (a) a frozen pension, and (b) an annually up-rated pension. 
Mr. Rooker: Retirement pension can normally be paid anywhere. However, annual upratings have never been generally paid abroad. The exception is those countries with which we have reciprocal arrangements, that is EEA countries and countries covered by the appropriate legislation.
|Ireland, Republic of||84.1|
|Rest of the world||2.8|
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|St. Vincent and Grenadines||0.7|
|Trinidad and Tobago||0.9|
|Yemen, Republic of||2.8|
|Rest of the world||9.8|
1. The figures quoted are rounded to the nearest hundred.
2. Information is taken from a 5 per cent. sample of the Pension Strategy Computer System and therefore may not include all countries.
3. Countries with fewer than 500 rated cases have been added together and shown under 'Rest of the world'.
5 per cent. sample from the Pension Strategy Computer System at 31 March 2000.
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