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Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research her Department has carried out into the number of United Kingdom firms considering relocating all or part of their operations abroad. 
Ms Hewitt: The Government take the issue of offshoring of UK operations very seriously. However, decisions on location are commercial matters for companies to take. We nevertheless need to understand better what is happening, and to this end we have launched a consultation document inviting views from businesses, employees and their unions, and consumer groups. I will also chair a round-table seminar in the new year, to help inform the debate on the impacts of offshoring.
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Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what response she is making to the letter from Postwatch of 1 December about the closure of post offices at Cowgate and Felham Hall Drive, Newcastle. 
Mr. Timms [holding answer 9 December 2003]: I expect Post Office Ltd. to consider carefully the comments and representations by Postwatch and others during the public consultation on the proposed closure of Cowgate and Fenham sub post offices under the Urban Network Reinvention programme. I understand that the consultation period continues until 6 January.
Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what action she is taking to support derogations in support of applications to build new hydro-electric developments; and if she will make a statement; 
Mr. Timms: Output from some hydro-electric generating stations attracts support under the Renewables Obligation (RO), a market driven support mechanism that creates an assured market for renewables generators through to 2027.
hydro stations of 1.25 MW or less that were built before 1990 that have always been in private ownership are eligible for the Obligation without having to refurbish;
all other stations up to a maximum capacity of 20MW and built before 1990 must refurbish to qualify;
all new stations commissioned after April 2002 will qualify.
Ms Hewitt: As part of Office of Science and Technology the role of the Science and Society Directorate is an overarching, strategic cross departmental one, working with partners to identify and tackle major issues and to provide fresh evidence, insights, approaches and solutions.
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young people are equipped to engage with scientific issues as active citizens of the future; raising public awareness, engagement and support of science; ensuring there is a sufficient supply of scientists and engineers; and promoting the involvement of women and ethnic minorities in science.
The Directorate includes 13 staff and brings together four teams: the DiverSETy Team, which is currently responding to the Greenfield Report; the Public Engagement Team which works to increase public awareness of the role of science in society and everyday life; the Science in Schools Team, which works with external interests to deliver activities into schools that enhance the curricula; and the Supply of Scientists Team, which is focusing on responding to the Roberts Review.
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Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the purpose was of each secondment of a departmental employee to a company since May; what recompense the company made to the Department for the secondee; what the cost of the secondee to the Department was over the period of the secondment, including wages and pension contribution; and if she will make a statement. 
|Purpose of secondment||Reimbursement to the Department (£)||Cost to the Department|
|A developmental opportunity to increase knowledge of environmental issues in the energy sector||16,062 per year||Nil|
|A developmental opportunity to increase knowledge of the financial services sector.||45,523 per year||Nil|
|A developmental opportunity to gain first-hand experience of sales and marketing in a large plc.||Net cost nil. The Department remains responsible for the secondee' s salary costs during the secondment, but in return the Department receives a secondee from the host organisation|
|A developmental opportunity to increase business awareness by working in a large plc.||Net cost nil. The Department remains responsible for the secondees's salary costs during the secondment, but in return the Department receives a secondee from the host organisation|
|A developmental opportunity to increase knowledge of the international nuclear energy business.||Net cost nil. The Department remains responsible for the secondee's salary costs during the secondment, but in return the Department receives a secondee from the host organisation|
In addition, we also run a programme of one week attachmentthe "Week in Business" scheme for Senior Civil Servants. The aim of the "Week in Business" short-term external attachment scheme is to help the Department to become more outward facing with a greater understanding of the issues facing our external stakeholders. It is also key in helping members of the SCS to gain experience of different ways of working so that good practice can be adopted internally.
(3) how many (a) post offices and (b) retail outlets sell stamps in Scotland; 
(4) what estimate she has made of the cost of making the (a) first and (b) second class Scottish definitive stamps available in book format for sale at (i) post offices and (ii) retail outlets in Scotland. 
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the costs incurred by UK industry arising from the decision by the US Administration to impose tariffs on steel in March 2002. 
Ms Hewitt: UK steel exports to the US fell significantly following the March 2002 decision. The impact on the UK industry was lessened to an extent by a number of decisions by the US to exclude particular products from the scope of the safeguard, and by the adoption by the EU of a mechanism to prevent surges of imported steel from third countries. These decisions, which followed lobbying by the Government in support of the steel industry, brought 74 per cent. of UK steel exports to the US outside the scope of the safeguard. However, the impact of the US measures continued to be negative and we therefore welcome the 5 December decision by President Bush to lift the US tariffs. This was a course of action that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister strongly urged the President to take during his visit to London.
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