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Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the cost to business of each public holiday in (a) England, (b) Wales, (c) Scotland and (d) Northern Ireland. 
Alan Johnson: Based on the most recent data available on Compensation of Employees from the Regional Accounts (produced by the Office for National Statistics), the estimated cost of a bank holiday to UK business in 1999 was £1.89 billion. The breakdown by country is (a) £1,610 million in England (b) £80 million in Wales (c) £160 million in Scotland and (d) £40 million in Northern Ireland. These figures are probably an overestimate since they assume that all businesses are closed on bank holidays; and that all employees, who do not work on bank holidays, are still paid.
Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what Government sponsored financial assistance is available to those wishing to start an enterprise within the retail sector. 
Nigel Griffiths: The SBS operates a number of programmes aimed at helping small businesses in all sectors (including start-ups) to obtain finance. These include: Regional Venture Capital Funds; the Phoenix Fund; and the soon to be launched Early Growth Funding programme.
In addition, the SBS has been providing advisory support to start-up businesses identified with the potential for high growth. Since October 1999, some 8,500 pre and early start businesses have received support from Business Link Operators to assist them in reaching their high growth potential.
The SBS is currently consulting across Government and with the business support organisations in the private and public sectors, on a comprehensive strategy for helping people to start a business. The SBS Consultation document of 6 May sets out the issues involved and invites proposals for how to address them. A key theme is the need for resources to be targeted to ensure high quality help is available to all who seek it. Following the consultation exercise in July, an action plan will be published in the Autumn to detail the steps that the Government and key stakeholders will take to help more people to start and grow a business.
Nigel Griffiths: I have received representations from a variety of bodies over a period of time about the extension of the Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme to excluded business activities. The Scheme is currently being considered as part of the DTI's wider review of business support.
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Alan Johnson: The Government will begin a 16-week public consultation on the Commission proposal for a directive on temporary agency workers from today. It will give interested parties an opportunity to comment on the Commission proposals and their likely impact on the UK.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions she has had with the UKAEA on the progress of construction of facilities at Dounreay for the long-term storage of nuclear waste. 
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the mandate of the European Energy and Transport Forum is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if she will list the items currently under its consideration; if she will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Hewitt: The European Energy and Transport Forum is a consultative committee which was established by the European Commission on 11 July 2001. Its purpose is to consider Commission initiatives in the field of energy and transport and gives its views. Its mandate is Commission Decision 2001/546/EC. The Forum comprises 34 members, including five from the UK. These were selected by a Commission process set out in Commission Decision 2001/C 20506. The Forum has not yet met. When it does it will establish a programme of work that will, no doubt, include issues from the Commission White Paper on Transport and the Commission Green Paper on Energy Security. No costs to UK public funds arise from the Forum. More details are available on the EU website "http://europa.eu.int/comm/energy"-transport/en/forum en.html
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the mandate of the Consumer Committee is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if she will list the items currently under its consideration; if she will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if she will make a statement. 
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advise and guide the Commission when it outlines policies and activities having an effect on consumers.
inform the Commission of developments in consumer policy in the member states.
act as a source of information and soundboard on Community action for the other national organizations.
The Committee is composed of 20 member members and 20 alternates appointed by the Commission for a 3-year (renewable) mandate (1 per member state plus five representatives from the European consumer associations: AEC, ANEC, BEUC, COFACE, EURO COOP).
Alan Johnson [holding answer 27 June 2002]: The Department has a range of support available for larger companies. This includes support for regional investment, innovation, collaborative research and development and knowledge transfer, exports and international trade and competitiveness activities in particular sectors such as the aerospace or automobile sectors. They also benefit from the Department's major investment in maintaining the excellence of the UK's science and engineering base.
Details of the Department's activities in these areas are set out in DTI's expenditure plans report (Cm 5416) which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry submitted to Parliament on 14 June.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what targets have been sought from or set for each local authority for increasing use of renewable energy; and what funding is contingent upon the achievement of these targets. 
Mr. Wilson [holding answer 25 June 2002]: The Government are committed to promoting a positive and strategic approach to regional planning for renewable energy development in the UK. Last year, we initiated the preparation of regional studies, including regional assessments of the potential for renewables and targets, representing the practical capacity achievable in regions by 2010. These studies have now been completed and the findings were published by Oxera in February 2002. These findings have also been channelled to my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister's office, who are currently revising the Planning Policy Guidance Note, PPG22, to give local planning authorities more up-to-date guidance on renewables planning.
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I have also announced the allocation of £1.7 million worth of work in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to take forward the facilitation of renewable energy planning. In addition, the Scottish Executive will continue to work with local authorities in Scotland on renewables planning. This is the first tranche of funding from the £2.5 million for planning announced by the PIU energy review. In addition to the DTI funding, the bids we received showed that matched funding of over £2 million can be expected from local organisations.
That is a real boost to this work and a very encouraging indication of the interest being taken at local level in renewables planning. This fund will be used to support the development of sub-regional targets and to take forward initiatives such as good practice guidelines and further stakeholder engagement in renewable energy developments.
The Renewables Obligation, which came into force on 1 April 2002, is the main instrument through which renewable energy development will be supported. The Obligation will be backed up by direct Government funding worth over £260 million for the period 200104, including the allocation of £74 million for the development of offshore wind projects, £78.5 million for the establishment of energy crops and biomass schemes and £20 million to kick-start a major solar PV demonstration scheme.
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