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18 Dec 2003 : Column 1041Wcontinued
Jacqui Smith: The Financial Reporting Review Panel (FRRP) considers whether the annual accounts of UK public companies and large private companies comply with the requirements of the Companies Act 1985. To date it has acted in response to complaints or other concerns and has always been able to resolve issues without the need to use its formal powers, which are to apply to the courts for an order requiring a company to restate its accounts.
The FRRP would consider in the usual way any complaint made to it about a UK company which had restated its earnings in the US. The FRRP is also introducing a pro-active element into its workthat is it will select a number of accounts for review on the basis
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Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how the Energy Bill will change the role of the Crown Estate with regard to (a) seabed control, (b) taxation of marine renewables and (c) planning control of marine renewables. 
Mr. Timms: The Energy Bill when enacted will enable The Crown Estate to licence areas of the seabed in the Renewable Energy Zone for the purpose of exploring and exploiting the UK's wind, wave and tidal resources for the production of energy. The Renewable Energy Zone will be established around the UK, adjacent to the territorial sea, in accordance with the provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the levels of sick leave in her Department as reported in 'Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service 2002'. 
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people (a) entered self-employment and (b) were considering going into business on the latest month for which figures are available, broken down by (i) region and (ii) local authority area. 
Nigel Griffiths: The Office for National Statistics' Labour Force Survey estimates the stock of self-employed people in the UK, and in Summer 2003, there were 3.4 million self-employed people in the UK. Regional estimates are also available (see Table 1).
New VAT registrations are the best guide to new business activity (start-ups) in the UK and are available for regions and local/unitary authorities are set out in Table 3 which I have placed in the Libraries of the House.
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|Region and country||Total self-employed persons|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||228,000|
|United Kingdom total||3,398,000|
ONS Labour Force Survey, Summer 2003. Due to slight methodological differences between the way the national and regional LFS estimates have been interim adjusted for the 2001 Census, there may be slight differences between the UK total and the sum of the regional components
|Region||Percentage of 16 to 64-year-olds|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||10|
SBS Household Survey of Entrepreneurship, 2001
Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the impact that the proposed environmental liability directive will have on small businesses in the UK. 
The UK is working together with other Member States to ensure that the final version of the Directive does not stipulate compulsory financial security as this measure would be extremely costly and place a disproportionate burden on small businesses.
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what grant assistance is available to trade associations to help them meet the costs of consultation and representation associated with European legislation; and if she will make a statement. 
Jacqui Smith: DTI values the important input that trade associations make to the development of robust policy in the UK and in Europe. Trade associations in sectors covered by DTI work closely with DTI sector units, which will, from time to time, co-sponsor joint projects.
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The Spring 2003 Labour Force Survey indicates that 22 per cent. of employees (5.5 million) presently work some form of flexible working arrangement. The preliminary findings of the 2003 DTI Work-Life Balance survey of employees shows that there is substantial demand for flexible working patterns amongst those who do not work in each of these ways; 49 per cent. wanting to work flexitime, 34 per cent. a compressed working week, 32 per cent. work term time only and 29 per cent. expressing a desire to regularly work from home. The full report is to be published early in 2004.
This is supported by the findings of the CIPD/Lovells October 2003 research into the impact of the new flexible working law, which indicates that over a quarter (28 per cent.) of employers have seen an increase in the total number of requests for flexible working since the law was introduced in April 2003. The Government's Work-Life Balance Campaign continues to support demand by encouraging employers to follow best practice and providing flexible working opportunities across the workplace that meet the needs of the business.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what information she has collected on (a) the number of requests which have been received by businesses for flexible working and (b) the number of such requests which have been granted. 
Of those employees who made a request, over three-quarters (77 per cent.) said their request had been agreed.
Of those organisations that have received statutory requests since the right was introduced in April, nearly two thirds (62 per cent.) have approved at least half of all such requests, either in the form submitted by the employee or in modified form.
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