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5 Dec 2002 : Column 984Wcontinued
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions she has had with the Scottish Executive about the human rights implications of an absolute right to buy land under the Agriculture Holdings Bill, and if she will make a statement. 
Mrs. Liddell: I have not received any representations on this issue. Industrial relations are a matter for the respective management and trade unions to resolve. I urge both sides to continue to work together constructively to reach a mutually acceptable solution which will avoid strike action. I understand that both unions are to ballot members on a revised pay offer from BAA.
John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport relating to the impact of analogue switch-off; and if she will make a statement. 
Mrs. Liddell: I have regular discussions with my right hon. Friend on a wide range of issues, including the impact of analogue switch-off in Scotland. The Government are committed to ensuring that terrestrial analogue broadcasting signals are maintained until everyone who can currently get the main public service broadcasting channels in analogue form can receive them on digital systems, and switching to digital is an
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affordable option for the vast majority of people. We have consulted widely on this issue and details are available on the website: www.digitaltelevision.gov.uk.
Mrs. Liddell: I have had introductory discussions with Lord Currie, Chairman of OFCOM on issues around the Communications Bill and its major interest for Scotland. In its UK wide role, OFCOM will have an overarching duty to take account of the interests of the nations and regions in all its activities. The regulatory functions of the new body will not take effect until the Communications Bill becomes law.
John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what meetings she has had with (a) the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and (b) the Scottish Executive relating to the impact of analogue switch-off in Scotland; and if she will make a statement. 
Mrs. Liddell: I have regular discussions with colleagues and Scottish Executive Ministers on a wide range of issues, including the impact of analogue switch-off in Scotland. The Government are committed to ensuring that terrestrial analogue broadcasting signals are maintained until everyone who can currently get the main public service broadcasting channels in analogue form can receive them on digital systems, and switching to digital is an affordable option for the vast majority of people. We have consulted widely on this issue and details are available on the website: www.digitaltelevision.gov.uk.
Mrs. Liddell: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 6 November 2002, Official Report, column 360W. The countries of residence of the current members of the Friends of Scotland network are as follows:
|Country||Number of Friends|
|Trinidad and Tobago||1|
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Alan Johnson: In our first term, we introduced a foundation of decent minimum standards in the workplace. We are now building on this, so that by 2007, employees will, for example, have been given rights to a minimum wage, four weeks paid holidays and to proper information and consultation. They will also benefit from a range of family friendly policies, such as the right for parents of children under six to request flexible working, parental and paternity leave and improved maternity rights. They will also have access to fair discipline and grievance procedures and may not be discriminated against on grounds of age, disability, religion or sexual orientation, or because they are part-time or fixed term workers.
Nigel Griffiths: Official data for the whole of the calendar year 2001 show that there were 175,455 VAT registrations in the UK. There is no comparable data on a quarterly basis. VAT start-up data are not collected by size of businesses.
Mr. Wilson: The viability of Drax Power Station is a commercial matter for the operators of that station, its customers and, if the security of electricity supply is concerned, the National Grid Company.
Alan Johnson: .According to the OECD, the UK has one of the lowest total tax burdens in the EUfar lower than the EU average. This has no doubt been an important factor in enabling the UK to take first place for share of EU total inward investment in 2001.
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Nigel Griffiths: Small businesses play a vital role in the UK economy, contributing around £1 trillion each year. They provide new ideas, products and services and, most significantly, jobs. There are 3.7 million UK businesses and on average 998 of every 1,000 of them are small or medium sized.
Latest survival rates show that over 91 per cent. of businesses are now surviving one year after registration, with 65 per cent. surviving three years after registration.
Only 1.1 per cent of active companies became insolvent in the 12 months ended Q3 (July to September) 2002.
The SBS Omnibus Survey (200102) shows that the vast majority of small businesses are quite optimisticover 80 per cent. of small firms say they are doing Xvery well" or Xwell".
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2001 also shows that the UK has a supportive environment for business start up and growth.
everyone with the ambition to grow is helped and supported;
small businesses find it easy to respond to Government and access its services.
be an innovator, pioneering new approaches across Government to meeting the needs of small business through better policy and high-quality services; and
be an engine for change, demonstrating what can be done, measuring progress against outcomes in the market place, and taking action, at national, regional and local levels.
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2. to encourage a more dynamic start-up market.
3. to build the capability for small business growth.
4. to improve access to finance for small businesses.
5. to encourage more enterprise in disadvantaged communities and under-represented groups.
6. to improve small businesses' experience of Government services.
7. to develop better regulation and policy.
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