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UK Competitiveness

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations she has

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received from businesses regarding the competitiveness of the UK in comparison to (a) EU countries and (b) G7 nations. [55909]

Ms Hewitt: Benchmarking the UK's performance against the world's leading economies including other EU and G7 nations is frequently part of the discussions my Department has in its work with consumers, employees and business to drive up productivity and competitiveness.


Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what EU block exemption is available for franchises between 1990 and 2000; and whether this block exemption contains definitions for franchise, franchisee agreement and master franchise agreement; and if she will make a statement. [56439]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Until 31 May 2000, Commission Regulation 4087–88 provided the block exemption for franchising. This regulation contained definitions of franchise and master franchise agreement. With effect from 1 June 2000 (subject to transitional arrangements), Regulation 4087–88 was replaced by Commission Regulation 2790–99, which covers all types of vertical agreements, including franchising. Regulation 2790–99 contains no definitions of franchise, franchisee agreement or master franchise agreement, but the accompanying administrative guidelines (ref: 99/C 270–42, published in the Official Journal of the European Communities No. C270 of 24 September 1999) on the regulation contain a definition of franchise agreements.

Wind Farms

Ms Drown: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many wind farm proposals her Department has opposed on the basis of advice from the Ministry of Defence in the last five years; and where those proposals were situated. [56412]

Mr. Wilson: Consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 to construct a 80 MW wind farm at Kielder in Northumberland was refused after an objection by the Ministry of Defence. Wind farms with a capacity of 50 MW or less are considered by the relevant planning authority under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Electricity Supply Industry

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with representatives of consumers about future legislation relating to the electricity supply industry. [55044]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 14 May 2002]: Following the passage of the Utilities Act 2000, the Government have no plans for primary legislation relating to the electricity supply industry. Secondary legislation relating to such supply is introduced as appropriate, both by DTI and the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority. Proposals for such legislation are subject to consultation with interested parties, including consumers' representatives.

Sick Leave

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many days of sick leave were taken in her

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Department last year; how many related to employees suffering (a) stress and (b) other mental health problems; and what the cost was to her Department. [56473]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 14 May 2002]: The average number of staff days lost per staff year through sickness absence in the DTI Group in 2000 (the most recent figure available) was 7.5. The figure is taken from the annual report on public sector sick absence commissioned by the Cabinet Office each year. The DTI Group, in addition to DTI HQ, consists of: ACAS, Companies House, Patent Office, Insolvency Service, National Weights and Measures Laboratory, Employment Tribunals Service, and the Radiocommunications Agency.

In answer to the second part of the question, both parts (a) and (b), the information requested is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The DTI is committed to meeting targets for reducing the number of working days lost due to sickness absence generally (as contained in our published service delivery agreements), and has a commitment to reducing working days lost due to work-related injuries and illness arising from the Government's revitalising health and safety initiative.

East of England Development Agency

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the composition is of the board of the East of England Development Agency; and on what basis each member was appointed. [56547]

Alan Johnson: The following members make up the board of the East of England Development Agency (EEDA):

The board is currently carrying a vacancy.

Appointments to the boards of all the RDAs are made in accordance with the Code of Practice set out by the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments. This means they are made on merit, following fair and open competition.

The RDA boards are business-led and the aim is that at least half of all the board members should have current or recent business experience. Four board members have local authority backgrounds and the rest of the board is made up of people with experience in some area relevant to the work of the RDA. In effect this means trade unions,

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further and higher education and the voluntary and community sectors.

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the powers are of the East of England Development Agency. [56546]

Alan Johnson: The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) is one of the eight regional development agencies in England outside London established by the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998. Each regional development agency (RDA) has five statutory purposes. They are:

Section 5 of the RDA Act empowers the RDAs to do anything they consider expedient for their purposes, or for purposes incidental thereto, subject to the following provision:

An RDA may only

if the Secretary of State consents; and an RDA may only provide housing by acquiring existing housing accommodation and making it available on a temporary basis for purposes incidental to its purposes.

Regional Development Agencies

Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what changes have been made to the 2002–03 allocations of the regional development agencies since 16 April. [57318]

Alan Johnson: There has been no change to the overall budget for the RDAs, but, following consultation with the RDAs it has been decided slightly to revise the size of the central contingency fund for in-year shocks. £5 million has been redistributed between the RDAs. The new individual budgets are shown in the table.

RDAGrossNet of receipts
Advantage West Midlands194,640192,169
East of England75,00076,307
East Midlands99,980101,247
North West284,740274,827
One North East192,360185,338
South East of England101,360100,480
South West of England91,88093,840
Yorkshire Forward220,220186,620

(4) Including additional programmes (regional selective assistance, broadband and regional centres for manufacturing expertise)

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Mr. Ivan Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many ministerial visits were made to Rwanda between 1979 and 1997; and how many have been made since 1997. [52224]

Mr. MacShane: Information on how may ministerial visits were made to Rwanda between 1979 and 1995 could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

However, from 1995 when the British embassy in Rwanda opened there have been 11 ministerial visits to Rwanda. The majority of ministerial visits have been made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development (seven). She has visited Rwanda every year since 1997 and twice in 2002. Baroness Chalker visited in August 1996. My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Central, then Minister of State in the FCO, visited Rwanda twice in 1998 and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary visited Rwanda with his French counterpart, Hubert Vedrine, in January 2002.

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