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29 Oct 2002 : Column 776W—continued

Small Business Service

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on her Department's plans to hold a Small Business Week in 2002. [76824]

Nigel Griffiths: Small businesses contribute 40 per cent. to our GDP and together have an annual turnover of one trillion pounds. They employ 12 million people in the UK, which is around 55 per cent. of the private sector workforce, so we promote SMEs every week of the year.

The Small Business Service is sponsoring The Sunday Times National Small Business Week. This major event will take place at Earls Court Exhibition Centre London on 28–30 April 2003. The organisers describe it as Xa true celebration of entrepreneurship", focusing on the

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day-to-day issues of running a small business, assisting them to gain more of a competitive edge with the final aim of increasing profitability.

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the outcomes of the regulation summits held between the Small Business Service and key stakeholders, including the list of potential projects which it was agreed would be considered in greater detail. [76833]

Nigel Griffiths: The meetings enabled a useful dialogue with small business representative bodies and provided an opportunity for business representatives to feed their regulatory concerns direct to Ministers.

On 16 October, discussions were held on a number of issues of importance to small firms; in particular on alternatives to regulation, the small firms impact test, the small firms start up resource pack and DTI consultation.

Officials and business representatives agreed to work together on these important issues to deliver benefits to businesses right across the country.

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress is being made by the Small Business Service in identifying a possible system for assisting small firms affected by disaster, as outlined in the Government's response to the Small Business Council's second annual report. [76823]

Nigel Griffiths: The Small Business Service has researched the issues arising out of establishing such a fund and the potential form(s) of assistance given to businesses affected by disasters in England. The devolved authorities are responsible for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Officials have reviewed the scheme operated by the USA's Small Business Administration, which provides loans to financially viable enterprises in the event of such a disaster and considered the extent to which that model, or other models, would be applicable in England.

Work in this area is being reviewed in light of the announcement on 18 September 2002, by the Commission of the European Communities, of its proposal to establish a European Union Solidarity Fund. This fund is to be focused on giving immediate financial assistance to help the people, regions and countries affected by major natural, technological or environmental disasters.

Small Businesses

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures she has taken to support small businesses in Romford. [76394]

Nigel Griffiths: Business Link for London, working with local partners including Havering Council, is the main conduit for the Government's support to Romford's 7,000 small businesses. The Business Link for London has helped over 850 of these in a wide variety of ways.

The BL services for small and medium sized businesses is available by phone,through the web, or through one of our 200 business advisors. These

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Business advisers work directly with clients to offer pragmatic advice in support of new and existing businesses. They help solve problems, ease the growing pains of success, or help take a business to the next level of its development.

Expert advice and support is provided in IT, Finance, Sales and Marketing, Human Resources, Design, International Trade, e-business. Supply Chain, Innovation,Franchising, Creative Industries, Manufacturing and more recently, Sustainable Business and Social Enterprise.

Within the London Borough of Havering, Romford's small businesses benefit from the Borough-wide distribution by the BLfL of regularly undated information oncurrent issues such as legislation changes, funded schemes and the availability of sector specific support.

ELSBC in conjunction with Havering Council and Natwest Bank has formed an alliance to run a programme of business support within the borough. This support consists of providing business counselling for people considering starting up new businesses in Havering, the provision of a 4-Day business training course and post-start counselling and mentoring. For the business counselling sessions, the counsellor will meet clients at two Havering locations—Romford and Harold Hill—with Harold Hill being subject to additional SRB funding.

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action she will take to ensure that small businesses are aware of their employees' rights; and if she will make a statement on recent related research by her Department. [76830]

Nigel Griffiths: In May 2002, the DTI published the report of its recent research into small businesses' awareness of employment rights, XSmall Firms' Awareness of Employment Rights" in the Employment Relations Research Series (Report No. 14). This was placed in the Libraries of the House.

The research was conducted by the Small Business Research Centre at Kingston University. Overall this research showed that confidence levels of small employers about their knowledge of individual rights were low even though awareness of those rights was generally high.

The Department is acting to raise levels of awareness among small business. We have set up an Employment Information Advice and Guidance project in partnership with ACAS, and the Small Business Service. Starting with the changes introduced in the Employment Act 2002 the project will improve the ways that the information advice and guidance on employment rights is provided to employers and employees with a particular emphasis on the needs of small businesses. The work of the project benefits from the advice of a user group of representatives of employers and employees including representatives of the Small Business Council, the Federation of Small Business and the private business forum and representatives of the main advisory networks.

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Information on these changes and on existing rights is also available on the DTI website Small firms and other employers can also register with to receive e-mail updates on changes to employment law.

Wind Farms

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to the reply, 17 October 2002, Official Report, c. 891W, on wind farms, when she expects the UK windspeed database to be available on the departmental website; and whether her Department is collaborating with the ODPM in respect of brownfield site availability. [77384]

Mr. Wilson: The UK windspeed database has now been made available on the DTI website at

My officials are collaborating with the ODPM on revisions to planning policy guidelines concerning renewable energy projects. The final planning policy statement should be made available in the first half of 2003 and will apply to all areas of England, including brownfield sites.

Information on brownfield site availability in England by region is contained in the ODPM Statistical Release BF-2002 of 12 September 2002, which is on the ODPM and National Land Use Database websites.

Planning Policy Wales (March 2002) encourages brownfield development wherever feasible. The Wales Planning Research Programme 2002–03 proposes further research on brownfield land following the completion of an earlier project, XA Feasibility Study to Establish a System for Monitoring the Supply and re-use of Previously Developed Land".


Air Transport (Manchester)

Mr. Keith Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consultation meetings have been held in the Manchester area regarding the future development of air transport in the UK; and which (a) organisations, (b) hon. Members and (c) other people were invited to the meetings. [77081]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 28 October 2002]: A public exhibition on the potential impacts of growth at Manchester airport was held on 14 October in Knutsford. The exhibition was open to anyone who wished to attend and was publicised in the local press and on the local radio stations. In conjunction with this, a number of key people from the areas most likely to be directly impacted by growth at Manchester were invited to a breakfast briefing. The invitees included the relevant MPs from the immediate area, MEPs, Council Leaders, local authority Chief Executives, Chairs of the Planning and Transport Committees and Chamber of Commerce Chief Executives. A further public exhibition will be held on 15 November at The Village, Cheadle.

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In addition, officials from this Department and the Government Office for the north-west have met with the Manchester Airport Air Transport Forum and the Manchester Users' Consultative Committee. They are also participating in a number of topic workshops for both the north-west region specifically and the North of England as a whole, to which a wide range of stakeholder groups have been invited. These include representatives from, inter alia, airports, airlines, local authorities, transport providers (such as the Highways Agency, Railtrack etc.) local business fora, regional and national environmental groups.

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