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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 12 December 2002


Predatory Lending

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures she plans to take to control predatory lending. [87014]

Miss Melanie Johnson: In July last year I announced a review of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. As part of this review, I have consulted on proposals to extend the protection the Act provides by removing the financial limit and to make the terms for early settlement of loans fairer to consumers. I will be consulting in 2003 on proposals for improving the current licensing regime to ensure better regulation of lenders and increasing protection for consumers against extortionate credit.

Insolvency Services (Pay)

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the annual pay negotiations for employees in the Insolvency Services will be concluded. [84462]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Treasury agreed the Insolvency Service pay remit on 9 December 2002 and pay negotiations will begin very shortly.

Invest UK

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which chemical industry specialist was appointed to work with Invest UK in January 2001; and if she will make a statement on Invest UK, including the terms of reference for the organisation and its work. [85492]

Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 9 December 2002]: The chemical industry specialist appointed to work with Invest UK is James W. Walpole, a senior executive, who has been seconded to the DTI by BP Chemicals for three years and works alongside Invest UK's team in the USA.

Invest UK's mission is Xto attract, to retain and add value to inward investment." It does so by marketing the UK abroad as an investment location, working with its partner agencies in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the English Regional Development Agencies.

A copy of the Invest UK Operations Review for 2002, reporting its activities in 2001–02, can be found in the Libraries of the House.

Inward Investment

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimates she has made of the level of

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inward investment into (a) Roxburgh and Berwickshire, (b) the Scottish Borders, (c) Scotland and (d) the UK over the last 10 years. [85704]

Nigel Griffiths: The number of inward investments in Scotland and the UK during the financial years 1992–2002 are as follows:


Invest-UK does not hold inward investment for sub regions.

The figures are based on information provided by companies at the time of announcement of the decision to invest in the UK. There is no requirement to notify Invest-UK of such decisions. These figures include only those projects where Invest-UK and its regional partners were involved or which have come to their notice.

Steel Industry

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what support she will provide to the UK steel industry to help it reach its maximum capacity of output. [86942]

Alan Johnson: The state aid rules applicable to the steel industry do not allow for direct help to enhance primary steel production. Nonetheless my Department works closely with industry representatives to try to ensure the UK's steel production capacity is utilised by helping its customers in the metals downstream industry sectors to access state of the art technology; best practice to move up the value added chain; and to diversify into new high technology products, in order to remain competitive.

War Pensions

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether war pensions will be in the card account proposed by the Post Office. [86559]

Dr. Moonie: I have been asked to reply.



Civil Defence Grant

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) what the criteria were by which the civil defence grant for 2003–04 was allocated to individual local authorities; [85835]

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Mr. Alexander: I refer the hon. Member to my written ministerial statement on 3 December 2002, Official Report, column 68WS, which explains how civil defence grant was allocated for 2003–04, and the level of allocation to each authority in England and Wales.

To determine the individual allocations mentioned in that statement, the following formula was adopted:

Each authority received #53,000. Each county council received #12,000 in respect of each shire district within the authority's boundaries. These flat-rate payments accounted for approximately 65 per cent. of the aggregate grant, in recognition of the fact that every authority, regardless of size and population, would incur similar unavoidable costs in conducting the basic emergency planning function.

The remaining 35 per cent. of the aggregate grant was distributed according to the Bellwin threshold, using population size as a proxy for the scale of the emergency planning that authorities need to undertake.

In order to keep year-on-year changes to individual authorities' allocations within reasonable bounds, a damping was added to the formula, so that no authority lost more than 10 per cent. or gained more than 20 per cent. compared with the previous year.

Before the formula was applied for the financial year 2002–03, #100,000 was retained for discretionary grant for special projects and special events of benefit to the wider emergency planning community in England and Wales.

Before making decisions on this allocation method, consultations were held with local authority representatives on the basis of a draft formula. As a result of the representations made, the formula was amended to give greater weight to the flat rate element and less weight to the element distributed according to the Bellwin threshold. The damping was also changed to reduce the floor level for losses.

The aggregate amount of civil defence grant in each financial year since 1996–97 is as follows:

Aggregate civil defence grant

Financial year# million

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Departmental Reorganisation

Tom Brake: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what estimate has been made of the cost of the reorganisations of the (a) DETR, (b) DTLR, (c) DFT and (d) DEFRA Departments. [86369]

Mr. Alexander: This information is not collected centrally. Departmental costs and other expenditure are accounted for in departmental annual reports and National Audit Office audits of departmental accounts.

Shropshire Civil Defence Grant

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) if he will list (a) the amount of civil defence grant for Shropshire, (b) the yearly percentage change for Shropshire and (c) the average percentage change for England in each year since 1997; [86462]

Mr. Alexander: There are two authorities in Shropshire currently in receipt of civil defence grants: Shropshire county council and Telford and Wrekin unitary authority. The reorganisation of local government and the creation of new all-purpose authorities has led to the redistribution, over several years, of civil defence grant among authorities.

The yearly percentage change for Shropshire and the average percentage change for England and Wales as a whole, are as follows:

Financial yearShropshire county council civil defence grant (#)Telford and Wrekin civil defence grant (#)Total civil defence grant for Shropshire (#)Percentage changeEngland and Wales percentage change

(1) Did not exist

In the absence of cash limits, the aggregate amount of civil defence grant increased in 2001–02, following discussions with local authorities. It was decided to maintain the grant at around the 2001–02 national level to reflect factors such as the fuel crisis, foot and mouth outbreak and flooding.

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