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In October 1998, this Government introduced new legislation to protect school playing fields from unjustified disposal. Precise information on the number of sales that have taken place since that time was included in the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for School Standards on 18 October 2001, Official Report, column 1292W.
Before October 1998, local authorities were able to sell school playing fields without the permission of the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, and information on the individual sales that took place was not collected centrally. Information on the total number of school sports fields was also not available centrally.
We are currently validating the Asset Management Plan information we have received from authorities, including that relating to school sports fields, and hope to be in a position to publish further analysis in the spring.
Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will provide the combined total expenditure of the Post Office Users' National Council in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for the financial years (a) 199798, (b) 199899 and (c) 19992000; what this year's budget will be for postwatch and projections for the next three years; and if she will list the elements of unplanned outturn in (a), (b) and (c). 
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Mr. Alexander [holding answer 20 November 2001]: Historical information in respect of the financial years 199798; 199899 and 19992000 for the Post Office Users' Councils in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland can be found in the annual reports for those years in question. The annual reports were placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Information in respect of the Post Office Users' National Council was contained in the answer on 4 December 2001, Official Report, column 149W.
The Consumer Council for Postal Services (known as Postwatch) was established to fulfil an important role in the new postal regulatory framework. It has wider statutory obligations and powers than POUNC and a more extensive regional structure. When considering Postwatch's budget we wish to ensure that Postwatch has sufficient funds to fulfil its role effectively.
We have agreed a total budget of £7.8 million for Postwatch for the financial year 200102. The sum initially agreed for Postwatch for this financial year (£6.9 million) has recently been increased by £0.9 million in light of special circumstances associated with establishing a new organisation within a new regulatory framework.
The figures on planned expenditure on Postwatch for the two financial years 200203 and 200304 are provisional and may be subject to adjustment with ministerial approval. This Department has not yet received from Postwatch a detailed bid for the financial year 200203 but we will consider the bid on its merits.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her answer of 20 November 2001, Official Report, column 163W, on BNFL, whether the purchase prices paid by BNFL to acquire companies in the US include payments to settle outstanding claims against each company and the acquisition of other financial liabilities. 
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Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what savings have been made in Magnox-related liability estimates since the Government transferred its shareholding in Magnox Electric to BNFL. 
Mr. Wilson: BNFL's liabilities, including those of Magnox Electric, are stated in its annual report and accounts. BNFL's liabilities have shown a net increase in the period since the acquisition of Magnox Electric. Magnox liabilities account for over 85 per cent. of the BNFL group liabilities.
Alan Johnson: The Manufacturing Advisory Service is in the process of being established. No firms have been assisted as the regional centres of delivery have not been announced. Therefore, it will take some time to assess the level of assistance given. However, it is expected that the north-east centre will be aiming to assist approximately 500 companies per year.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many SMEs have been launched in each year since 1996 (a) nationally, (b) within Teesside and (c) in the Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East constituency. 
Alan Johnson: The information held relates to businesses that have registered for VAT. The table shows how many businesses registered, year on year, since 1996 throughout the United Kingdom. We are unable to provide figures for Teesside or the Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East constituency, but can provide those for the unitary authorities of Middlesbrough; Redcar and Cleveland and the former county of Cleveland.
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Alan Johnson: The Government office for the north-west, the North West Development Agency and Small Business Service work in partnership with other agencies, business and local authorities to provide support and advice to investors in these two sectors, and to ensure that an attractive range of skills is available. A number of schemes, including Regional Selective Assistance, the Enterprise Grant Scheme, SMART awards and Regional Innovation Fund, exist to provide direct financial assistance to support new investment. Work on cluster developments, reclamation and re-use of land and on promoting the leisure and tourist industries is also intended to attract investment to Lancashire.
Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on progress of the agreement between suppliers and supermarkets as it affects farmers in Kent. 
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(3) how many small businesses have had to cease trading because of the effects of foot and mouth disease. 
Nigel Griffiths: The DTI, Small Business Service and DEFRA have not made estimates of the numbers of jobs lost; the number of businesses that will be lost in the next 12 months; or the numbers of businesses that have ceased trading in the small business sector as a result of foot and mouth disease. It would be difficult to arrive at such figures, given that in many cases there will be a number of factors influencing a decision to reduce the size of a business or to cease trading, for example prospects for an individual business prior to the foot and mouth outbreak.
Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she will issue the statutory social and environmental guidelines to the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Wilson: The Department undertook a public consultation on a draft of the social and environmental guidance over the summer, and we are currently considering the responses. We plan to issue the guidance as soon as possible once that process has been completed.
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