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Foot and Mouth

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with leading banks about offering special facilities to non-farming businesses which have been affected by foot and mouth disease; and if she will make a statement. [4289]

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Ms Hewitt: My officials continue to have discussions with the banks about the problems faced by all businesses affected by foot and mouth disease. The Small Business Service is working closely with the banking industry, via the British Bankers Association.

Extensions to the small firms loan guarantee scheme for businesses affected by foot and mouth disease were announced on 6 April 2001.

Enterprise Grants

Diana Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what the criteria are for enterprise grants; [4031]

Alan Johnson: The criteria for enterprise grants are set out in the scheme brochure, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House. The brochure is also available at index.htm.

Following an internal review of the workings of this new scheme, two changes to the criteria were agreed in February of this year, to allow:

Post Office

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she has taken to ensure that the Post Office does not use its powers under the Representation of the People Acts for its commercial advantage. [4123]

Mr. Alexander: The Representation of the People Acts allow free delivery of parliamentary candidates' electoral mailings by universal service providers. Universal service providers are reimbursed for providing this service out of the Consolidated Fund at a rate negotiated by the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions.

Royal Mail

Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment the Government have made of the impact on jobs and postal services of Royal Mail plans to restructure its provision of sorting offices in London. [4591]

Mr. Alexander: Under the Government's reforms of postal services, we have established an arm's-length relationship with Consignia and operational matters, such as the restructuring of Royal Mail's sorting offices, are a matter for the company.

End of Life Vehicle Directive

Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if the EU end of life vehicle directive will be restricted to new cars; and if UK vehicle manufacturers will be required to pick up retrospective liabilities (a) immediately and (b) in the future; [4108]

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Mr. Wilson: The Government will issue a consultation paper on the implementation of the end of life vehicles directive as soon as possible. The directive introduces tightened environmental treatment standards which must apply for all vehicles scrapped from 2002 onwards. The consultation paper will focus on how obligations might be apportioned between different operators and views from all parties on the paper will be welcomed.

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) PFI and (b) PPP contracts have been agreed by his Department over the last five years; how many have been satisfactorily completed; and in how many has compensation been (i) paid and (ii) claimed for performance failure. [4597]

Ms Hewitt: The Department and its agencies have signed three PFI/PPP contracts in the last five years. All three are on-going. No compensation has been paid in relation to these contracts. In the case of one contract, service credits amounting to £8,500 have accumulated for performance failure.


Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many appointments she has made since May 1997 in accordance with the Nolan criteria; how many appointees were aged over 60 years at the time of appointment; and how many declared a political affiliation for (a) the Conservative Party, (b) the Labour Party and (c) the Liberal Democrats. [4708]

Ms Hewitt: The information requested is not held centrally for the period since May 1997. It is being collated and I will write to the right hon. Member as soon as it is available.

Work-related Illnesses (Legal Costs)

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what have been the total payments from public funds to date to legal advisers of claimants in respect of (a) chronic bronchitis and emphysema and (b) vibration white finger; and what estimate she has made of the likely total final costs. [3664]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 17 July 2001]: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Cummings) on 16 July 2001, Official Report, column 33W.

Chemical and Man-made Fibre Industries

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assistance his Department is planning to help the chemicals and man-made fibres industries. [4647]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 17 July 2001]: The chemicals industry is undergoing radical restructuring through divestment and acquisition, which has prompted a review of the Department's analysis and strategies towards the sector. This includes the development with industry of a learning and skills strategy; a programme to

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promote the spread of best practice; support for chemical industry cluster initiatives in several parts of the country; and a new programme to support chemicals inward investment from North America, which we have initiated with regional partners and InvestUK. The Department also has a programme of activities to help promote research and development, and support for the transfer of science and technology.

To help support this activity, the Department contributed around £4.6 million in 2000–01 to a number of programmes designed to improve the competitiveness of the chemicals and man-made fibres industries. This included the establishment of an Industry Forum for the chemicals sector to help improve process efficiency; a £2 million Faraday Partnership to improve the two-way flow of information and people in formulation technology; and a £3 million 'Manufacturing Molecules' programme to help reduce the time taken to develop and make complex molecules.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what factors underlie the recent significant reduction in business investment in the private sector managed chemicals and man-made fibres industries. [4648]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 17 July 2001]: Figures produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 25 June show that private sector manufacturing business investment in the chemicals and man-made fibres sector, based on seasonally adjusted figures, has increased by 5.6 per cent. (at current prices) in 2001 Q1 when compared with 2000 Q4.

These figures also show that there has been an increase in investment of 0.6 per cent. on the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

Enterprise Scholarship Scheme

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on how the enterprise scholarship scheme will encourage British entrepreneurs abroad to establish companies in the United Kingdom. [3926]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 17 July 2001]: The recent White Paper on Enterprise, Skills and Innovation "Opportunity for all in a world of change" announced an enterprise scholarship scheme to attract the best young graduates from overseas, particularly in high-tech subjects, who want to come to the UK to develop their careers and start new businesses. The scheme will offer a tailored package of measures including postgraduate study in a business-related subject, work experience and help in starting up a business in the UK.

In addition British Trade International is working on a pilot scheme to encourage established overseas entrepreneurs to set up companies in the UK to pursue innovative business proposals. This pilot, which will target expatriate British and other entrepreneurs, is currently being developed in consultation with Development Agencies, the Small Business Service, DTI, FCO and other partners.

There is global competition for talent and it is the Government's aim to attract skilled and able entrepreneurs to the UK especially in areas where there is a short supply.

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These measures will support the creation of new jobs and prosperity in the UK and enhance our competitiveness in international markets.

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