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Business Investment

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the impact that falling business investment has on economic growth. [143430]

Ms Hewitt: Business investment per worker has increased over the last decade in the UK, although it has been subject to a cyclical decline since 2001, in common with our major G7 competitors. Investment drives long run growth, and the Government are committed to ensuring that the UK provides a business environment where investment can flourish. That is why the Government have made major reforms to the macro-economic framework, which have helped to deliver low and stable inflation and to avoid large, destabilising fluctuations in output. Economic stability helps businesses plans for the long-term, giving them the confidence to invest. The Government have also reformed the corporate tax regime to give powerful incentives to invest, improved institutional investment arrangements through the Higgs and Myners reviews, and removed the regulatory barriers to investment in the planning system.

Business Support Schemes

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what has happened to those business support schemes in existence in November 2002 which have not been closed to new business, have not been devolved elsewhere and do not remain open to new business. [144236]

Nigel Griffiths: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry's answer to the hon. Member's earlier question on 10 November 2003, Official Report, columns 20–21W, listed the 39 schemes that were no longer open to new business, and cited two

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schemes that had been transferred on the Regional Development Agencies. This leaves the 52 schemes that are currently open to new business.

In November 2002 over 100 business support schemes were considered to be operational. The figure of 93 reflects in part a consolidation of the previous count. We had, for example, identified and counted separately each of the Link research programmes; these are now aggregated into the reduced total and counted as a single scheme.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will publish the list of licences granted for trade with Colombia which involve the export of military equipment. [144924]

Nigel Griffiths: Details of export licences granted for Colombia are published in the Government's Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls. Copies of the Annual Report are available from the Libraries of the House.

Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which agency (a) an employee and (b) an employer should approach for (i) legal advice and (ii) advocacy on discrimination and harassment on the grounds of (A) sexual orientation and (B) religion and belief in advance of the establishment of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights. [144405]

Ms Hewitt: The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations and the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations were introduced on 1 and 2 December respectively offering protection from discrimination in employment and vocational training. Legislation on these grounds will be enforced in the same way as other employment equality laws: through the Employment Tribunals and the Courts.

The DTI website has information on the legislation aimed at employers and employees ( er/equality). ACAS, the independent employment relations service, has produced impartial guidance on the sexual orientation and religion or belief regulations and the workplace. It includes possible scenarios and frequently asked questions. The ACAS guidance is available on their website ( and as a free printed booklet. These are both useful sources of information on rights and responsibilities under the new legislation which will help employers to avoid discrimination and help employees recognize where they may have been discriminated against.

Both employers and employees can seek practical advice from ACAS via their national helpline (08457 47 47 47). Employers may also receive advice from their own HR specialists, legal representatives, trade association or business representative organisation.

As with other employment legislation, individuals who wish to make a complaint to a tribunal are able to enlist the support of their trade union, law centres, Pro Bono groups or voluntary organisations with a particular interest in their case, as well seeking independent legal advice from a solicitor. In some cases,

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they may be eligible for legal advice and assistance under the Community Legal Service (CLS) legal help scheme. The CLS website, 'Just Ask!' ( provides co-ordinated access to several hundred legal information and help websites. Users can use the search facility on 'Just Ask!' to locate local or national legal service providers who can help with their problems. Individuals can also call into their local Citizens Advice Bureau, where free legal advice and representation may be available.


John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Edinburgh West of 30 September on outsourcing of jobs abroad; and what the reasons were for the delay in replying. [143722]

Mr. Timms: I apologise to the hon. Member for the delay in responding to his letter. This was due to an administrative oversight. A reply has been sent to his office today.

Departmental Grants

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much funding has been provided by her Department to finance the Business Volunteer Mentoring scheme that is managed by the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies since inception of the scheme. [145517]

Nigel Griffiths: Since its inception, in January 2000, my Department has provided approximately £3.5 million to fund the Business Volunteer Mentoring scheme.

Disabled Civil Servants

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many senior civil servants in her Department are disabled, expressed in (a) numbers and (b) as a percentage of whole-time equivalents. [144982]

Jacqui Smith: Statistical information about senior civil servants with disabilities is available on the Civil Service Statistics web-site at

This information is also made available in the Libraries of the House. The latest statistics show staffing data as at 1 April 2003. The data shows that in my Department there are 10 senior civil servants with a disability. This is 3.4 per cent. of the total number of senior civil servants in my Department.

Electricity Act

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the effects of the European Water Framework Directive and European habitat regulations on section 36 consents under the Electricity Act 1989. [144188]

Mr. Timms: In deciding whether consent should be granted for individual projects under section 36 of the Electricity Act, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry will take into account a

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range of interests and consult with a number of relevant statutory bodies including the nature conservation agencies and the Environment Agency. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry would expect any advice received from the statutory bodies as a result of the consultation to have regard to the legislation applicable to the functions for which they are responsible and for their advice to reflect their expertise in the implementation of such legislation.


Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps her Department is taking to increase the number of people going into business or becoming self-employed; what targets have been set; if she will make a statement on progress to date; and what estimate she has made of the number of people who were considering going into business or becoming self-employed in each year since 1997. [143042]

Nigel Griffiths: There are a number of Government support initiatives aimed at helping those thinking about starting a business. These include:

In 2001, 12 per cent. of adults in England were considering going into business or becoming self-employed. The DTI has a target to increase this to 14 per cent. by 2005.

Equal Opportunities

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether different standards on promoting equal opportunities will apply to (a) companies working on government-funded contracts and (b) those engaging in purely private business. [140532]

Fiona Mactaggart: I have been asked to reply.

Private sector companies, including those carrying out public sector contracts, are subject to the provisions of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. These prohibit discrimination, respectively, on the grounds of sex, on racial grounds and on the grounds of disability, in the fields of employment, training, education, the provision of goods and services and the provision of housing. From 2 December 2003, it has also been unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation and religion or belief in the fields of employment and vocational training.

The Race Relations Act 1976, as amended by the (Amendment) Act 2000 (RR(A)A) placed a general duty on listed bodies to have due regard to the need:

The duty applies to public bodies only listed in the Schedule introduced by the RR(A)A. The duty does not apply to private sector bodies.

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However, the Government does not want to see a dilution of the general duty in relation to functions which have been contracted out, and bodies to which the duty applies will need to be mindful of their obligations when discharging their functions through others. In placing contracts, for example, such bodies might want to consider whether the contract should be used to specify actions that the contractor should take to ensure that the body in question does not fail to meet its obligations in this area. This does not, however, mean the duty is transferred to the contractor. The responsibility for complying with the duty in relation to public functions relevant to it remains at all times with the listed body.

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