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Phil Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action she is taking to implement the
7 Mar 2002 : Column 490W
seven aims of the UK print industry contained in the recent report 'Print 21: Coming of Age'. 
Mr. Alexander: The seven aims contained in the report "Print 21; Coming of Age" are addressed not to Government, but to the printing industry itself. The industry has formed a steering group to take forward the seven aims and I am pleased to say that the Department is part-funding a project proposed by the group to draw up a strategy to achieve this.
Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what reports her Department has produced on Exchange Direct during the last year; and if she will make them available to the police investigation into the company. 
Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 4 March 2002]: The Department has produced no reports on Exchange Direct plc.
A winding up order was made against the company on 23 January 2002 and the Official Receiver is now responsible for investigating the reasons for the company's failure and the conduct of its directors. The Official Receiver is aware of the police investigation and will provide assistance as appropriate.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many bankruptcies there were in each of the last 20 years. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: The number of bankruptcy orders made in each of the last twenty years is as follows:
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Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the average time was for a bankrupt to be discharged in each of the last five years. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: Bankrupts are discharged under the terms of the section 279 of the Insolvency Act 1986. Bankrupts are generally discharged three years after the commencement of the bankruptcy except in the following circumstances:
Where an individual has been an undischarged bankrupt at any time in the period 15 years ending with the commencement of the bankruptcy or where an individual is subject to a criminal bankruptcy order, an application for discharge has to be made to the court, but not until at least five years after the commencement of the bankruptcy.
The court can suspend these discharge provisions where it is satisfied that an undercharged bankrupt is failing to co-operate with his trustee and/or the official receiver.
Miss Melanie Johnson: The Insolvency Service does not hold statistics on the amount of time taken to complete inquires; this is largely dependent on the complexity of the case. The Insolvency Service has set targets for the percentage of reports to creditors to be issued within certain time limits. During the last five years The Service has issued of reports to creditors within 8 weeks and 12 weeks of the bankruptcy order respectively as follows:
|Year ended||Eight weeks||12 weeks|
|31 March 2001||99.3||99.6|
|31 March 2000||98.7||99.8|
|31 March 1999||98.2||99.7|
|31 March 1998||98.1||99.5|
|31 March 1997||98.3||99.6|
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many insolvency practitioners are in practice in England and Wales. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: A total of 1,623 individuals are currently authorised to act as insolvency practitioners by the Secretary of State and by the recognised professional bodies in England and Wales. Of this number some 1,020 are currently bonded to take appointments as office-holders in insolvencies.
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Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she expects to publish the Competition Commission report into small business banking. 
Ms Hewitt: The supply of banking services by clearing banks to small and medium-sized enterprises was referred to the Competition Commission for investigation by the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Chancellor and I will publish the report as soon as practicable.
Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will bring forward plans to introduce speed-limiters in motorised road vehicles. 
Mr. Jamieson: I have been asked to reply.
In Great Britain, there are already legal requirements to fit top-speed limiters to goods vehicles, buses and coaches weighing more than 7.5 tonnes maximum permitted weight. These measures are more extensive than is currently required by existing European Union law. A proposal currently under consideration by the European Parliament and the Council Ministers would extend the European requirement to buses and coaches with more than eight passenger seats irrespective of weight, and to goods vehicles of over 3.5 tonnes maximum permitted weight. We are not convinced that the safety and environmental consequences of fitting limiters to lighter vehicles would be beneficialbunching of vehicles could cause added congestion and create safety hazardsand voted against the proposal when it was considered by the Transport Council in December last. The proposal is, however, likely to be adopted later this year.
Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the Financial Services Authority proposals regarding polarisation in the provision of financial services; if she will ask the Social Exclusion Unit to assess the report in terms of its impact on people on low incomes; and if she will make a statement. 
Ruth Kelly: I have been asked to reply.
The proposals in CP121 to reform the polarisation regime for the distribution of financial service products are a matter for the FSA. They are subject to consultation and the government would encourage all those with views to look at the consultation paper and supporting research reports, and let the FSA have their views by 19 April. Any proposals the FSA brings forward following consultation will be subject to detailed cost benefit analysis.
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Jean Corston: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Bristol, East constituency, the effects on Bristol of her Department's policies and actions (a) from 5 May 1994 to 2 May 1997, (b) from 2 May 1997 to 7 May 1998, and (c) since 7 May 1998. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, the Regional Co-ordination Unit have provided data and I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office on 4 March 2002, Official Report, column 80W.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the average response time was for responding to departmental correspondence; what percentage of letters took longer than one month for a response; and what percentage took longer than three months for a response in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The correspondence standard in the Department for Education and Skills is to reply to 95 per cent. of all correspondence within 15 working days of receipt. Figures reflecting our performance on all departmental correspondence are shown at Tables 1a and 2a. These were published, in the annual service standards report, by Cabinet Office each year up until 2001 to show performance against the correspondence standard which is one of the six Whitehall standards set for central Government on 1 April 1997.
For the period from April 2000, when we introduced an electronic case tracking system (Correspondence Handling System), we are able to provide more detailed information on performance as shown in Tables 1b, 2b and 2c. This covers most correspondence but not emails sent direct from Ministers' offices.
Ministerial correspondence (calendar years)
|Target for response (working days)||Total volume||Percentage of responses within target|
(2) The figures on this table are the figures reported to Cabinet Office. They will differ from that of the Correspondence Handling System as they include correspondence not handled via this system, i.e. emails sent direct from Ministers' offices.
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|Final reply sent||Number||Percentage|
|Less than 15 days (within target)||9,364||67.98|
|Between 16 and 30 days||3,672||26.66|
|31 days and over||738||5.36|
Departmental correspondence answered by officials (Financial Years)
|Operational year||Response target (working days)||Total volume||Percentage of responses within target|
|April 1999March 2000||15||96,009||90|
|April 1998March 1999||15||108,000||89|
|April 1997March 1998||15||116,417||88|
|Final reply sent||Number||Percentage|
|15 days or less (within target)||47,065||93.39|
|Between 16 and 30 days||2,520||5.00|
|31 days and over||812||1.61|
|Final reply sent||Number||Percentage|
|15 days or less (within target)||73,954||93.36|
|Between 16 and 30 days||3,481||4.39|
|31 days and over||1,782||2.25|
(3) Total volume of correspondence reported to Cabinet Office and published in the annual report for this period was 85,929. This figure included residual cases not input on to the new Correspondence Handling System.
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