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Statutory Instruments

Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many statutory instruments were laid before Parliament by his Department each year from 1993 to 1998, inclusive. [156524]

Mr. Byers: The number of Statutory Instruments laid before Parliament by the Department of Trade and Industry from 1993 to 1998 are as follows:

YearNumber of Statutory Instruments laid before Parliament

Advantage West Midlands

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. [156502]

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.

Our confidence in RDAs is shown in their increased budgets for the new financial year 2001-02. The £1.7 billion they will have by 2003-04 is almost double the amount they inherited in 1999.

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.

Advantage is working with partners and leading on information, communications and technology (ICT), with a major emphasis on rural areas and market towns. It has

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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 approved expenditure of £230,000 for a Regional Organics Centre on the Battlefield Enterprise Park at Shrewsbury.

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.

It has made a very significant financial commitment of £2.8 million to restore Flax Mill, a Grade 1 listed building with the objective of providing employment and substantial tourism.

Utility Prices (Shrewsbury and Atcham)

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. [156501]

Mr. Hain: Average annual domestic bills 1 for customers paying by quarterly credit for (a) gas and (b) electricity in cash terms in the West Midlands region 2 for 1997 and 2000 are as follows:


(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.

(9) Provisional.

(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

Average bills on a regional basis have been published annually since 1999 in the Department's annual "Digest of UK Energy Statistics" and in the "Energy Report".

Insolvency Service

Mr. Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what targets he has set his Department's Insolvency Service Executive Agency for 2001-02. [157022]

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:

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The Service is expected to action 100 per cent. of invoices for payment within 30 days of receipt and 90 per cent. within 20 days of receipt. The Agency Chief Executive is expected to reply within 10 working days to all letters from Members of Parliament delegated to him for reply.

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. [156517]

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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