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Compact Discs

Mr. Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received on the retail price of compact discs. [152098]

Dr. Howells: Following DTI's first International Price Survey officials have been monitoring developments in the CD market. Officials have had discussions with record companies, retailers, consumer organisations and the Office of Fair Trading.

A competition inquiry into the supply of compact discs was launched by the Office of Fair Trading on 9 February. The inquiry will consider whether the way in which the record companies have responded to imports of cheaper CDs from elsewhere in the EU amounts to a breach of the Competition Act 1998. The inquiry is expected to take six months.

Departmental Policies (Don Valley)

Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to Don Valley constituency, the effects on Doncaster of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [153525]

Mr. Caborn: The Department has provided the following support for businesses in Doncaster since May 1997. Information at constituency level is not available in all cases.

Regional Selective Assistance (RSA)

RSA is a capital investment grant linked to the creation or safeguarding of jobs in designated areas of need. 57 RSA grant offers totalling £4.0 million have been made to businesses in the Doncaster district, to support projects with a total capital expenditure of £5.4 million, and to create and safeguard a total of 991 jobs. Within these figures 12 offers related to the Don Valley constituency where grant of £0.3 million was offered against capital spend of £2.8 million and the creation/safeguarding of 87 jobs.

Enterprise Grants

The Enterprise Grants scheme is a simplified scheme that was introduced in April 2000 to help small firms undertake fixed capital investment projects. Five offers totalling £106,500 have been made to firms in the Doncaster district, of which two were in the Don Valley constituency.


Smart awards are designed to help small firms with the introduction of new products and processes. Ten Smart awards totalling £576,444 have been made to firms in the Doncaster district, of which five were in the Don Valley constituency.

Business Link

Doncaster Chamber of Commerce and Business Link have provided services to small businesses in the Doncaster area (including the Don Valley constituency) since 1997. These include general and specialised advice

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to help businesses grow, export development counselling, ICT advice, and a full range of specialist information. From April 2001 these services will be provided by the Small Business Service operating through a new South Yorkshire Business Link with local concessions, including one in Doncaster. This new service will be more customer focused ensuring that services are driven by local need.

Departmental Policies (Jarrow)

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will set out, with statistical information, relating as directly as possible to the constituency, the effects on Jarrow of his Department's actions since 2 May 1997. [153564]

Mr. Caborn: It is not possible to quantify the direct effect of all the Department's policies and actions. However we do hold statistical information on the programmes administered by the Department and the expected effects of that funding in the Jarrow constituency are set out in the table.

Nature of funding
Regional Selective AssistanceEnterprise GrantsSMART
Number of companies1100
Amount offered355,00000
Jobs created10200
Jobs safeguarded000
Number of companies802
Amount offered379,000084,150
Jobs created7700
Jobs safeguarded1000
Number of companies1211
Amount offered687,85015,00045,000
Jobs created10762
Jobs safeguarded4604
Number of companies150
Amount offered200,00092,6400
Jobs created176740
Jobs safeguarded0100

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Post Office

Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the overseas companies in which the Post Office has investment, with the date of each investment and the amount. [153181R]

Mr. Alan Johnson [holding answer 12 March 2001]: The Post Office has advised that it has made investments in overseas companies as listed in the table.

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Company Post Office shareholding per cent.Total investment £ millionDate investment completed
Citymail Group (Sweden)11.24Summer 1998
German Parcel (Germany)100308January 1999
Der Kurier (Germany)1009April 1999
Williames Group of Companies (Ireland)10010December 1999
Citipost (Europe, North America, Pacific Rim)10028January 2000
Crie Group (France)10015February 2000
Pakke-Trans A/S (Denmark)10020March 2000
General Parcel Austria & Slovenia10014March 2000
Nederlandse Pakket Dienst (The Netherlands)10072April 2000
Extand SA (France)10097May 2000
Citymail Sweden6722June 2000
Domberger Pakket Dienst (Germany)10045June 2000
Direzione Gruppo Executive SpA (Italy)4929December 2000

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Public Service Opening Hours

Ms Ryan: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what plans she has to extend public service opening hours in line with modernising Government commitments. [154039]

Mr. Ian McCartney: I am pleased to announce that I am launching a booklet entitled "Open all Hours, service hours at times to suit" on Thursday 15 March. The report showcases a number of first-rate examples of public services that have extended their opening hours so as to be more accessible to the consumer.

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I have placed copies of the booklet in the Libraries of both Houses.

Special Advisers

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if she will make a statement on the increase in the number of special advisers in Government Departments since 1997. [153405]

Mr. Ian McCartney: The Government's response to the sixth report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, published in July 2000, sets out the position on the appointment of special advisers.

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Civil Servants (Salary Increases)

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the average percentage increase in salaries of non-industrial civil servants, excluding members of the senior civil service, was in his Department for 2000-01. [152799]

Mr. Chris Smith: In my Department the average performance-related increase in salaries for staff below the senior civil service was 4.5 per cent. in the 2000-01 pay round. Negotiations are continuing in the Royal Parks Agency on their settlement.

Pensioners (Free TV Licences)

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many pensioner households in the north-east region of England are in receipt of a free television licence. [153081]

Janet Anderson: TV Licensing, which administers this concession for the BBC as licensing authority, is not able to provide geographical breakdowns of the number of free licences issued. Estimates based on the 1991 census indicate that there were approximately 158,000 people aged 75 or over living in the North East Government Office region, although television licences cover households rather than individuals.

Compulsory Purchase (Rochford)

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he received the application by Rochford district council to permit it to purchase compulsorily the premises at 35, 37 and 39 West road in Rochford; when he will reply; and what time limit applies to the consideration of such applications. [153506]

Mr. Alan Howarth [holding answer 13 March 2001]: An application to the Secretary of State to confirm a compulsory purchase order in respect of these premises was received on 16 June 2000 and, following an objection by the owner, a (postponed) public inquiry was held on 9 and 18 January 2001. The Inspector's report was received on 15 February 2001 and is being considered. There is no time limit for making a decision, but we shall handle the matter as expeditiously as possible.

Royal Parks Police

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) if the Royal Parks police will introduce a grievance procedure similar to that of the Metropolitan police service; [153468]

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Mr. Alan Howarth: Responsibility for the subject of these questions has been delegated to the Royal Parks Agency under its Chief Executive, William Weston. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from William Weston to Mr. Peter Bottomley, dated 14 March 2001:

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