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Mr. Darling: The Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Bill will amend the Scotland Act by breaking the link between the number of MSPs and the number of MPs from Scottish constituencies. The proposal to transfer to the Supreme Court the function of hearing devolution disputes currently held by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council would also require an amendment to the Scotland Act.
Mr. Darling: Scottish Enterprise is formally responsible to Scottish Executive ministers, though I and my predecessors have had continuing contact in a variety of different contexts with the Chairman and past chairmen of Scottish Enterprise since devolution.
I am delighted that the Scottish Executive have approved plans for the redevelopment of the Ravenscraig site and I am sure that the project will bring long term benefits across Lanarkshire and the West of Scotland.
Mrs. McGuire: Minimum income guarantee was replaced by pension credit on 6 October 2003. The Pension Service are writing to all pensioner households to give them information and to invite them to apply. Those who apply within the first 12 months will have their awards backdated to the first date of entitlement.
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Sir Robert Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the proposed bill to retain the current number of Members in the Scottish Parliament will be drafted to allow consideration of the method of election used for the Scottish Parliament. 
Mrs. McGuire: The scope of the bill, which was introduced on 27 November, is a matter for the House Authorities. However, as the bill deals only with the determination of the number of constituencies and regions of the Scottish Parliament, the number of regional members per region and the arrangements for reviewing the boundaries of constituencies and regions, my understanding is that consideration of the method of election to the Scottish Parliament will be outside its scope.
Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom, HM Customs and Excise.
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Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the start-up rate was for small businesses in (a) each London borough, (b) London and (c) England in each year since 1997. 
|Barking and Dagenham||25||25||30||31||29||26|
|City of London||2,212||2,228||2,200||2,345||1,653||1,428|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||77||96||84||94||85||75|
|Kensington and Chelsea||98||102||106||105||74||78|
|Kingston upon Thames||60||63||55||53||48||46|
|Richmond upon Thames||72||75||70||72||65||71|
(1) Mid-year resident adult (16 and over) population estimates
Business Start-ups and Closures: VAT Registrations and De-registrations 19942002 from the Small Business Service; population data from The Office for National Statistics
Mr. Jim Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the outcome was of the Competitiveness Council on 27 November; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if she will make a statement. 
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Member States agreed to support France as the EU's candidate for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). It was also agreed that the legal entity for the project would be incorporated in Spain with an office in a city near the French border, and Spain would have one of the two EU directors.
Commissioner Busquin introduced the White Paper on Space emphasising the three main axes: citizens needs, exemplified by satellite projects such as Galileo and Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES); consolidating Europe's space Science and Technology expertise important for growth; and a framework for better use of existing resources.
The Presidency emphasised the importance of the latest approach on the Growth Initiative. R&D projects were included for the first time, and innovative financing instruments would be used, combining FP6, PPPs and EIB funding.
The Commission introduced its new Communication on an Integrated Competitiveness Strategy. Amongst other things it outlines ways to facilitate the work of the Competitiveness Council, and emphasises the three elements of rigorous analysis of challenges; better regulation; and innovation and entrepreneurship.
We welcomed this strategy and the other Reports and Scoreboards presented at the Council. These help us understand the scale of the task we face in delivering economic reform in the EU. The Council adopted wide-ranging conclusions on competitiveness based on these.
Unanimous agreement was reached on the adoption of the proposed review of the Mergers Regulation. The new Regulation introduces some flexibility into the investigation timeframes although their predictability is unaffected, reinforces the "one-stop shop" concept so that it benefits firms, and clarifies that the substantive test contained in the regulation covers all types of harmful scenarios, whether dominance by a single firm or effects stemming from a situation of oligopoly that might harm the interests of European consumers.
Ministers at the Council also reached an agreement on the Takeovers Directive. The agreement makes key articles optional for Member States. It allows them to decide either to impose the defensive measures allowed for in articles 9 and/or 11 on all their listed companies or, if they did not do so, allow companies to voluntarily "opt-in" to the provisions of those articles). Companies will be required to disclose their status as opted-in or out.
Discussion on the final outstanding points on the Regulation to establish a Community Patent continued on and off throughout the Council. Discussion hinged on the issues of languages, in particular, the legal effect of translations on a patent claim and the length of time allowed to file such translations. On the issue of legal effect, the Council managed to find compromise wording. Agreement, however, was not reached on the deadline for filing translations.
A UK compromise text was adopted on the Fifth Motor Insurance Directive, which improves insurance cover for pedestrians and cyclists throughout the EU, whilerespecting national liability and compensation law.
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