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Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the effects of abolishing Advantage West Midlands on businesses in Shrewsbury and Atcham. 
Mr. Caborn: This Government are about ensuring that all regions of the country are given the opportunity to reach their full potential. It is the task of Government to ensure that the right framework is in place for regional economies to flourish.
This is why we established Regional Development Agencies (RDAs)--to improve the economic performance of the English Regions. In the short period of their existence, the RDAs have emerged as the strategic drivers of economic development in the English regions--mirroring the success of their counterparts in Scotland and Wales.
The RDAs have already made a considerable impact. They brought local partners on board to produce Regional Strategies. They have provided a focal point for regional economic development, and they have already established a track record in creating and saving jobs. RDAs have also had a key role in defining the skills needs in their regions in the context of their Regional Strategies.
Shrewsbury and Atcham companies have already received funding from Advantage West Midlands (Advantage). Companies within the Shrewsbury area have been directly assisted with Rover funding totalling £130,000. I hope that Shrewsbury and Atcham will benefit from the development of the Wolverhampton-Telford high technology corridor, which Advantage is exploring. The Rural Regeneration Zone to the south of the district will, I feel sure, provide much needed support to businesses and communities in the vicinity, improving the local economy and indirectly helping businesses in the Shrewsbury area.
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taken the initiative and set up a Task Force to assess and address the social and economic impact of the foot and mouth outbreak in the region.
It has taken an early opportunity to assist the Shropshire Local Learning and Skills Council by allocating a notional £450,000 for 2001-02 for skills development. Companies in Shrewsbury and Atcham, as elsewhere, will benefit from improving the skills of the workforce.
Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will estimate the average change in prices for (a) gas and (b) electricity to the average consumer in Shrewsbury and Atcham since May 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
(7) Averages are weighted by customer numbers and based on all companies operating in the region.
(8) Figures are those for the Midlands Electricity distribution area and the West Midlands Transco distribution zone.
(10) Per cent. change.
(11) Annual consumption level of 18,000kWh has been assumed.
(12) An annual consumption level of 3,300kWh has been assumed. Customers with electric central heating are likely to consume considerably more electricity
Dr. Howells: The Insolvency Service's planning assumption is that compulsory insolvencies will total 26,500 in the year to 31 March 2002. On that basis and with the resources allocated to it, I have set the following performance targets:
to maintain in real terms the unit cost of administering bankruptcy and compulsory liquidation cases over the period 1999-02 at the level of 1998-99, taking account of additional shorter-term cost of its new IT infrastructure and the delivery of improvements in its services to users;
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to reduce in real terms the unit costs of its investigation of bankruptcy and liquidation cases by 10 per cent. over the period 1999-02, also taking account of the additional shorter-term costs of its new IT;
to continue to achieve the level of disqualification proceedings and orders against unfit directors as in 2000-01;
to report to creditors on assets and liabilities within eight weeks in at least 98 per cent. of all cases; and within 12 weeks in 99 per cent. of all cases;
to hold the initial meetings of creditors within 12 weeks in 97 per cent. of all appropriate cases, and within four months in 99 per cent. of all appropriate cases;
to submit disqualification reports within 12 months in at least 65 per cent. of cases and within 15 months in at least 80 per cent. of cases where there is evidence of unfit conduct by directors;
to reduce the average time from a company's insolvency to conclusion of disqualification proceedings from 28 months to 26 months; and to increase the percentage of disqualification cases concluded within 30 months from 68 per cent. to 72 per cent; and within 24 months from 42 per cent. to 45 per cent.; and
to check and action at least 98 per cent. of Insolvency Service's Account payment requisitions within four days or by the due date.
I have asked Agency Chief Executive to continue to work on the development of outcome based targets for the Service's activities; and to continue to review and to seek to improve its quality of service performance in the light of his experience of its new IT infrastructure and the views of its users.
Mr. Opik: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if the arrangements formulated to protect employees' jobs in the Corus firm can be applied to employees' jobs in the former BSK factory in Llanidloes; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Alan Johnson: I am disappointed to learn of the planned closure of BSK Ltd. with the loss of over 200 jobs. I have considerable sympathy with the individuals and local community affected by this decision. I understand that the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Development Agency are making every effort to mitigate the losses and are exploring options to retain a foundry operation in the area. Similarly the Government are seeking to minimise job losses at Corus. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has urged Corus to reconsider its decision to make 6,050 job cuts and has pressed the company to engage in constructive dialogue to identify a better way forward. I am pleased that a dialogue involving Corus, the Trade Unions and Government are now underway and hope this will alleviate the impact of the large scale redundancies proposed.
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