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9 Dec 2003 : Column 448W—continued

Gross Domestic Product

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to encourage manufacturing investment in the UK. [140949]

Ms Hewitt: We published the Government's Manufacturing Strategy in May 2002—the first such strategy for 30 years—which we developed in partnership with industry, trade unions and other stakeholders, following a summit meeting on the challenges facing manufacturing held in December 2001.

By maintaining a stable macroeconomic climate, together with measures such as reforming capital gains tax; making permanent enhanced capital allowances for small and medium sized firms; introducing the R&D tax credit for small and large firms; establishing Regional Venture Capital Funds; and extending the Small Firms Loan Guarantee, we are providing a climate conducive to investment for the long term in UK manufacturing.

Insolvency Service

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much revenue has been generated by the Insolvency Service in each year since 1997; and what the cost of administering the Insolvency Service has been (a) in each year since 1997 and (b) in each quarter of 2003. [143142]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Income and Expenditure of the Insolvency Service as reported in its Annual Report and Accounts since 1997 was:


Income from feesInvestment incomeExpenditure

Investment Income derived from the Insolvency Services Investment Account was surrendered to the Consolidated fund in accordance with Section 405 of The Insolvency Act 1986. 2003–04 is the last year of this funding regime. A new financial regime will be introduced on 1 April 2004 under the Enterprise Act 2002. Under the new financial regime investment income will be paid to creditors and The Insolvency service will seek to cover its case administration costs in full through a revised fees structure.

In year financial monitoring and management control information is being produced monthly. These unaudited figures are not directly comparable with previous years as they include the costs and income of the Redundancy Payments Service together with estimates of non-cash and other charges that can only be known at year-end.

International Trade

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the impact of EU trade rules on developing countries. [142169]

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Mr. Mike O'Brien: The overall impact of EU trade arrangements on developing countries is determined by a number of factors. The European Union offers preferential access to European markets to developing countries under the Cononou Agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, the 'Everything But Arms' initiative for Least Developed Countries and the Generalised System of Preferences for Developing Countries. In addition to preferential arrangements, other instruments have a direct or indirect impact on developing countries, including anti-dumping measures, the common agricultural policy, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and technical regulations. The impact of such factors differs from country to country, and there is little research on the aggregated net effect either on specific developing countries or on developing countries as a group.

We continue to work closely with the European Commission and other member states to ensure the greatest benefit to developing countries of increased international trade through, for example, the WTO negotiations on the Doha Development Agenda, and Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations under the Cotonou Agreement.


Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many representatives from her Department are in Iraq; how many representatives of her US counterparts are in Iraq; and if she will make a statement on the effect on UK industry of the numbers. [140534]

Ms Hewitt: There are five staff from my Department working in Iraq. Three are seconded to the Coalition Provisional Authority, including one responsible for trade development. Two are based in the British Office to promote trade relations with Iraq. A further staff member will go to Basra early in the New Year to promote trade. We have had positive feedback for my Department's work to support British firms in Iraq and we will continue to work with all interested British firms as well as with trade associations and other industry bodies. I am not in a position to comment on US Government staffing for Iraq.

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the level is of Iraq's debt to the UK which was accrued up to the point of the fall of Saddam Hussein; how much has been written off; what the nominal repayment due each year is; and what debt repayments were made in each year since 1997. [141557]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: ECGD has unrecovered claims of around £623 million arising from contracts with Iraq signed prior to the first Gulf conflict in 1991. This amount does not include interest, which it is estimated could bring the figure to some £1 billion. The only monies recovered by ECGD since 1997, all through the United Nations Compensation Commission were £2.68 million in 2001–02 and £320,000 in 2003–04.

No debt has been written off but the Paris club group of creditors, including the UK, has announced that it intends to agree a comprehensive treatment of Iraq's debt problem by the end of 2004. In the meantime no payment of these arrears of debt will be sought.

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The Government have made it clear that it is seeking a fair and sustainable solution to the Iraqi debt problem. We believe that the debts should be dealt with under the new Paris Club 'Evian approach' which offers a long-term solution for countries with the most serious debt problems, including debt reduction where the need is clearly demonstrated.

ISO 9001:2000

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how she intends to encourage further implementation of ISO 9001:2000 following the employment of this standard by suppliers to the Ministry of Defence. [140663]

Ms Hewitt: ISO 9001:2000 is the latest version of the quality management systems standard. It has been substantially revised to take account of modern management practice and the experience gained in industry over the past 25 years. It is already the most widely recognised management standard in the world and I am sure that the advantages and benefits of the new version will encourage its use still further. The DTI welcomes tenders from suppliers that have certification to this standard for a relevant scope but it is not a mandatory requirement and it is acceptable for a potential supplier to use other means to demonstrate how it has implemented its quality policy.

Motor Industry

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations her Department has received from the motor industry regarding possible membership of the euro. [142127]

Jacqui Smith: I have had discussions with many companies from the automotive sector, and had a range of representations on whether the UK should join the euro. The Government's policy on membership of the single currency is unchanged. The determining factor is the national economic interest, as assessed by the Government's five economic tests.

Pension Payments

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will initiate an inquiry into the reasons underlying the number of pensioners receiving their state pension by means of direct payment into a Post Office card account on 6 September. [141519]

Mr. Timms: No. The reasons for opting for a Post Office account are a matter for individual customers. The Department of Work and Pensions provides customers with all the information that they need to choose the type of account into which they want to have their pension or other benefit paid, including those with Post Office access. It is for the customer to take the final decision on which account is best for them in their own particular circumstances.

Posting of Workers Directive

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what guidelines she gives under the

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Posting of Workers Directive; whether collective agreements in construction will be enforced; and if she will make a statement. [142418]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Guidance on the Posting of Workers Directive is available on the DTI website. Unlike most EU countries, the UK has a voluntarist system of collective employment relations. Collective agreements in construction are not universally applicable and accordingly are extended by law to cover employers and workers not party to them. These collective agreements are, therefore, not covered by the Directive, which we have fully implemented in the UK.

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she last met representatives from trade unions representing construction industry workers to discuss the Posting of Workers Directive, with particular reference to its implication for (a) collective agreements and (b) health and safety. [142436]

Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 8 December 2003]: I meet the TUC periodically to discuss various issues, including matters relating to the construction industry. I am meeting representatives from the Transport and General Workers Union on 10 December, and I will be discussing the Posting of Workers Directive among other issues.

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