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Investment Grants

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures are used to ensure that her Department is able to recover any grants awarded to overseas companies in connection with investment projects in the UK, that subsequently became repayable. [73650]

Alan Johnson: It is normal to seek a legally binding guarantee of repayment from the parent company. Other conditions may be sought depending on the circumstances of the specific case.

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much of the grant money paid to Viasystems Inc group in respect of its North Tyneside plant has been recovered. [73651]

Alan Johnson: We have recovered £3 million to date, in two tranches. The Department is in continuing discussions over the remaining sum.

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will ask the Comptroller and Auditor General to review the safeguards in place to ensure that grant moneys paid to overseas companies can be recovered if they subsequently become repayable, with special reference to the case of Viasystems Inc. [73652]

Alan Johnson: The Comptroller and Auditor General is an independent officer of the House. If the hon. Member wishes such a review to be carried out, I suggest he raises the matter with him.

General Agreement on Trade and Services

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the impact of GATS on trade and industry. [66868]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 4 July 2002]: The purpose of the GATS is to promote economic growth through the expansion of trade in services. Quantifying the benefits of services liberalisation is difficult, but the available estimates suggest positive benefits for both developed and developing countries in particular.

For the United Kingdom, liberalisation of services markets should be of particular benefit. The UK is the second largest exporter of services in the world and fourth

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largest importer. In 2001 exports of services amounted to £77 billion and imports were worth £65 billion. Services account for nearly 70 per cent. of our GDP.

We believe that liberalisation of services underpinned by effective domestic regulatory frameworks can bring benefits to developing countries. Recent studies point to the economic efficiency and welfare gains that liberalisation can bring. The World Bank estimate that services liberalisation could boost the income of developing countries by nearly $900 billion. This is nearly five times the gain the bank estimate that they would obtain from liberalisation in goods. Liberalisation of infrastructure services such as financial, telecommunications and transport services can help developing countries by fostering the efficiency and growth of other sectors of their economies.

Under the GATS countries can decide in which sectors and to what extent they wish to liberalise or privatise and when they think it would be beneficial for them to do so.

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The EC has made clear in its liberalisation requests that it is not seeking the dismantling of public services nor the privatisation of state owned companies.

Business Investment (Somerset)

Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action the Government have taken to attract business to (a) Somerset and (b) Taunton since 1997. [73259]

Alan Johnson: In 1998 the Government launched the Regional Development Agencies and in 1999 the South West Regional Development Agency (SW RDA) was established. Prior to that the West of England Development Agency had responsibility for attracting inward investment to Somerset and Taunton.

Since the inception of the RDA the Agency's Inward Investment team, working closely with the Somerset Local Strategic Partnership, has secured a number of successes bringing inward investors into Somerset.

DateCompanyOriginLocationCap Ex £(m)NewSafePartnerProjectSource
Aug 1998Edwards PearsonHollandSomerset21090SEP162Direct
Dec 1998LogoplastePortugalBridgwater6.00700SEP463INUK
Aug 2000EquiteaKenyaTaunton0.005SEP1123INUK
Flight Visions
Nov 2000UK LtdUSALangport0.0250SEP1183Direct
Nov 2000ChickmasterUSABridgwater1.00070SEP524INUK
Singapore
Jul 2001SeamapSomerset0.05120SEP1108Direct
Total to date: 6£9.07m102160

Somerset has also benefited from investment under the Single Regeneration Budget (£1.2m) and the Market and Coastal Towns Initiative (£50K).


Investment (Coventry)

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assistance has been given to manufacturing companies in Coventry since 1997. [66158]

Alan Johnson [holding answer 4 July 2002]: It is not feasible to cite details of individual grants that have been awarded to Coventry based manufacturing companies. However, the following grants and assistance have been available for all or part of the period in question:

Regional Selective Assistance; Enterprise Grants; New SMART; SMART; SPUR; Regional Enterprise Grants—including Regional Innovation Grants and Regional Investment Grants; and the European funded "Accelerate" scheme. Additionally, modernisation and diversification support has been offered to businesses as a result of the recommendations of the Rover Task Force.

Farm Bill

Mr. Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations the EU is making to the US on the likely effects of the proposed Farm Bill; and if she will make a statement. [67597]

Ms Hewitt: Both HMG and the Commission are in frequent dialogue with the US Government at all levels about the US Farm Bill (the "Farm Security and Rural Investment Act 2002"). We have made clear to the US Government our considerable disappointment with the Farm Bill, especially in the context of the Doha Development Agenda, which committed all WTO members to substantial reductions in trade-distorting support. The US believe the Farm Bill is compatible with their World Trade Organisation Commitments and have stressed their intention to remain fully engaged in the Doha negotiations. We will continue to strongly encourage them to do so.

Local Loop Unbundling Initiative

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her estimate is of the number of local loops that will have been unbundled by July; and what estimate she originally made when the local loop unbundling initiative was announced. [68043]

Stephen Timms: At the end of June 2002, over 600 lines had been unbundled. It is difficult to forecast how many unbundled local loops there will be by a given date as this is dependent on operators' own commercial rollout plans. Past attempts to forecast volumes of unbundled loops have proved unreliable for a number of reasons, not least the prevailing market conditions and the decision by operators to target the business rather than residential market.

Fraud

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received with regard to (a) introducing regulation in an attempt to prevent fraud by corporate executives, and (b) introducing penalties to further discourage fraud by corporate executives; and if she will make a statement. [69080]

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Mr. Wilson: The Government's White Paper, published on 16 July, in response to the Company Law Review includes a proposal for codification of directors' general duties, with civil remedies for breach of director's duties if a workable scheme can be devised. The White Paper also proposes extending the existing offence for misleading the auditors of a company and proposes a new duty on directors to volunteer information to auditors where such information is necessary for the performance of auditors' duties.

In addition the Enterprise Bill provides for the introduction of criminal sanctions for individuals who enter into cartel agreements.

Foresight Projects

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the crime prevention panel of the Foresight projects. [69814]

Ms Hewitt: The Foresight Crime Prevention Panel was set up in April 1999 to run for three years. The Panel considered the likely developments in science, technology and society up to 20 years ahead and how these might impact on crime. The aim was to try and help UK Government, law enforcement, business, science and society prepare for the future.

In December 2000 the Panel published a report "Turning the Corner" which included five key recommendations for change. The Panel spent until March 2002 taking forward these recommendations, the three key outputs were:


Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has for future funding of the Business Information Crime System operating under the Foresight initiative. [69815]

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has for future funding of the Business Information Crime System operating under the Foresight Initiative. [71216]

Ms Hewitt: DTI has no current plans for further funding of the Business Information Crime System (BICS), beyond the life of the current BICS research project. The project is expected to complete by June 2003.

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the crime prevention panel of the Foresight projects. [71225]

Ms Hewitt: The Foresight Crime Prevention Panel was set up in April 1999 to run for three years. The Panel considered the likely developments in science, technology and society up to 20 years ahead and how these might

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impact on crime. The aim was to try and help UK Government, law enforcement, business, science and society prepare for the future.

In December 2000 the Panel published a report "Turning the Corner" which included five key recommendations for change. The Panel spent until March 2002 taking forward these recommendations, the three key outputs were:



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