Previous Section Index Home Page

European Charter for Small Enterprises

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made in implementing the principles behind the European Charter for Small Enterprises in the United Kingdom. [13682]

Nigel Griffiths: The UK is firmly committed to a full implementation of the European Charter for Small Enterprises. We believe that since its adoption in June 2000 useful progress has been made in the United Kingdom under all 10 lines for action contained in the charter. Recent examples include proposals for the revision of company law, proposals for the reform of competition rules and insolvency law, continuing action under the UK online for business initiative, and the opening of the 'smallbusinesseurope' office in Brussels. Details of these and many other relevant UK actions can be found in a recent report provided to the European Commission, entitled "The European Charter for Small Enterprises—A Review of relevant actions and measures in force in the United Kingdom". Copies of this report have been placed in the Library of the House. At a wider European level, the UK co-organised with the European Commission a conference on top-class business support services in Cardiff in October.

While we believe that real progress has been made in some areas, we recognise that more needs to be done if we are to meet our own and the EU's goals for creating

23 Nov 2001 : Column: 560W

the best possible environment for small firms. We will continue therefore to take action which will help us and encourage our European partners to achieve these goals.

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the principle embodied in the European Charter for Small Enterprises relating to the exemption of small enterprises from certain regulatory obligations. [13683]

Nigel Griffiths: The Government agree with the principle embodied in the European Charter for Small Enterprises that legislative simplification can help reduce the burden of compliance for small business. In the UK the approach has been to adopt "Think Small First" principles—all those considering regulation must first consider alternatives to regulation as well as whether exemptions for small firms are appropriate, the case for exemptions for small firms from regulatory obligations is then made on a case by case basis.

Exemptions for small enterprises from certain regulatory obligations can be a useful way of reducing burdens on business e.g. on audit thresholds, the requirement to consult on redundancies, the need to have works councils and most recently the draft Information and Consultation Directive. There are a range of regulations, such as those relating to food safety, the national minimum wage, environmental protection and health and safety where this is less likely to be appropriate (because of the need to safeguard the rights of employees and protect consumers) and may in fact create a barrier to growth for small firms.

Export Licences (Israel)

Mr. Galloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many standard individual export licences have been issued for exports to Israel during (a) May, (b) June, (c) July, (d) August, (e) September and (f) October; and if she will make a statement. [13670]

Nigel Griffiths: The number of Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs) issued to end users in Israel was as follows.

23 Nov 2001 : Column: 561W


All export licence applications to Israel continue to be considered against the consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria in light of the circumstances prevailing at the time of the application. This means inter alia we will not issue licences where there is a clear risk that the equipment might be used for internal repression, international aggression, adversely affect regional stability or prolong internal conflict.

Ministerial Visit (China and Japan)

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the people met by the Energy Minister on his recent visit to China and Japan; and if she will place in the Library copies of documents made available to the Minister's hosts by her Department during the trip. [14258]

Mr. Wilson: The information is as follows:

23 Nov 2001 : Column: 562W

No documents were made available to the Minister's hosts by the Department during the trip.

Regional Venture Capital Funds

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what response her Department has made to points raised by the Commission regarding United Kingdom practice in regional venture capital funds in Com 2001/712 EC. [14797]

Nigel Griffiths: Com 2001/712 EC was the document issued by the European Commission granting State Aid clearance to the Regional Venture Capital Fund programme. It was not necessary for the UK Government to respond to the document.

23 Nov 2001 : Column: 563W

In common with any programme of this kind, the Regional Venture Capital Funds had to be approved by the European Commission under State Aid guidelines. DTI and SBS officials have worked together with EU officials to enable the European Commission to grant this approval.

Atomic Energy Police Force

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many and what makes of vehicles are operated by the Atomic Energy police force; and what is the purchasing policy on UK-built vehicles by the Atomic Energy police. [15161]

Mr. Wilson: The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary (UKAEAC) currently operates 46 vehicles consisting of 22 Ford, seven Landrover, six Vauxhall, five LDV, three Volkswagen, two Mitsubishi and one Peugeot. The UKAEAC's policy is to buy the correct vehicles for its operational needs, with the option for purchasing UK-built vehicles when this is consistent with securing value for money.

Next Section Index Home Page