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12 Jan 2004 : Column 504W—continued

Senior Departmental Posts

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in meeting targets for the proportion of people with disabilities in senior posts in his Department. [146005]

Fiona Mactaggart: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) on 8 January 2004, Official Report, column 488W.

Youth Sales Restrictions

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to assist (a) tobacconists, (b) alcohol retailers and (c) publicans in determining the age of customers where restrictions on sales exist; and if he will make a statement. [145327]

Beverley Hughes: The Government's plans for a national identity cards scheme would provide a nationally accepted, useful and secure way of proving and determining age. Our current best cost estimates would fund the issuing of cards free to all 16-year-olds.

In the shorter term, we have a strong interest in initiatives like the British Retail Consortium's Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) which establishes a common standard for issuing the various proof of age cards that are available.

Officials have worked closely with the British Retail Consortium to ensure the PASS scheme is as effective as possible. We have endorsed the scheme with ministerial involvement at its launch event last year and we continue to take steps to promote it such as including details of schemes that are PASS accredited on the Home Office website and providing a representative to sit on the PASS Board as an observer.

MINISTER FOR WOMEN

Child Care

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Minister for Women what (a) measures are in place and (b) measures are proposed to encourage fathers to share caring responsibilities for their children. [146260]

Jacqui Smith: The Government is committed to helping provide parents with more opportunities than ever before to balance work and family life. In April 2003, we introduced new laws for working parents which cover fathers as well as mothers, including the right for parents of children aged under six or disabled children under 18 to request flexible working, adoption leave available to men and women, and the right to two weeks paid paternity leave for fathers. These new rights together with the existing rights to parental leave and time off for dependents recognise that men increasingly want to play a greater role in sharing caring responsibilities for their children, and gives them more choices for doing so.

To encourage take-up of the new rights, the Government is running an ongoing awareness raising campaign which includes national newspaper adverts

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targeted specifically at fathers, and is working in partnership with a number of key stakeholders such as Fathers Direct. The Government's Work-Life balance campaign also encourages employers to adopt best practice and provide family-friendly working practices right across the workforce.

The Children Act Sub-Committee, working to the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Board on Family Law, published a report "Making Contact Work", which amongst other issues highlights paternal responsibilities in caring for children. The Government is currently considering recommendations arising from the report, and plans to respond in full as soon as possible.

The Family Support Grant has provided funding for a number of projects over the last five years to encourage fathers to become actively involved in the care of their children. These have included supporting the Active Dads programme, which assists a range of joint father/child activities rolled out through the Community Education Development Centre (now ContinYou), and helping organisations such as Fathers Direct provide support and guidance to fathers and professionals working with them.

Pension Provision

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Minister for Women what recent assessment has been made of women's pension provision. [146253]

Malcolm Wicks: I have been asked to reply.

"Simplicity, Security and Choice: Working and Saving for Retirement" Cm 5677, dedicated a chapter to assessing the state of women's pension provision.

The unique pension position of women is now being considered in all the projects that followed on from the Green Paper, such as the Informed Choice programme and the Extending Working Lives programme.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Nuclear Safety

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what access is provided to international nuclear safeguards inspectors to (a) military nuclear facilities and (b) military nuclear materials, under the provisions of the protocol additional to the agreement between the United Kingdom and the International Atomic Energy Agency for the application of safeguards in the United Kingdom in connection with the Treaty on The Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. [147022]

Mr. Timms: I have been asked to reply to this question since nuclear safeguards and implementation of the protocol additional to the UK/Euratom/IAEA Safeguards Agreement (Cm 4282), which is not yet in force, are the responsibility of my Department.

Under the terms of the UK additional protocol the IAEA could request access to any location in the UK, including military nuclear facilities, where such access will contribute to increasing the IAEA's capability to detect undeclared nuclear material and activities in a non-nuclear weapon State. If necessary, access may be

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managed in accordance with Article 7 of the protocol. If access to the requested location cannot be granted, then every reasonable effort must be made to satisfy the IAEA's requirements, without delay, at adjacent locations or through other means. Neither the Safeguards Agreement nor the additional protocol apply to nuclear material required for national security reasons.

Advantage West Midlands

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the recent decision by Advantage West Midlands not to support regeneration initiatives in Kington; and what estimate she has made of the effect on the amount of Objective 2 funding available. [142589]

Jacqui Smith: Advantage West Midlands has created Regeneration Zones to maximise local input on regeneration issues. The Regeneration Zone Board considers which projects to support within the resources available. The number of competing projects was such that a package of projects in Kington was not put forward to Advantage West Midlands for funding.

Objective 2 funding is still available to these projects if Kington can find alternative match funding. I am assured that Advantage West Midlands and Government Office officials will work with Kington to seek alternative funding sources.

Kington has received extra support from Advantage West Midlands. It was one of the first six market towns identified for support through the regional market towns programme, which began in 2001. The Programme in Kington allows for support from the Countryside Agency for a market towns support officer, and up to £300,000 from Advantage West Midlands for a package of projects developed by the local partnership, Kington Partnership. It is in the second year of a four year programme, and has drawn down £94, 607 from Advantage West Midlands to support 11 different projects to date.

In addition to the market towns partnership, Advantage West Midlands has taken forward other project work directly in Kington with local partners. This includes the purchase of the old Kington Cottage Hospital and conversion into a Youth Hostel working with the Youth Hostel Association. Advantage West Midlands has also worked up plans with Herefordshire council to renovate the local Wesleyan Chapel for wider community use.

Correspondence

Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she will reply to the letter to her dated 27 November 2003 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Angela Bottomley. [147619]

Ms Hewitt: I replied to my right hon. Friend on 9 January.

Departmental Grants

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what funding her Department provides for

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(a) enterprise grants that are delivered to businesses in the regions by the Small Business Service, (b) the STEP programme, (c) the Faraday Partnership scheme and (d) the Manufacturing Advisory scheme in each year since inception of the scheme; what timescale applies to the funding in each case; and if she will make a statement on the extent to which businesses have benefited from each initiative. [145483]

Nigel Griffiths: The information is as follows:

(a) Enterprise Grants

Enterprise Grants are available to small and medium-sized businesses based in the Enterprise Grant Areas of England. Projects can involve expanding, modernising or restructuring an existing business, or setting up a new one. The maximum grant available is £75,000 on projects with up to £500,000 capital investment.

The Enterprise Grant scheme was allocated a budget of £45 million between January 2000 and March 2003. The scheme deadline has been extended to March 2004 and in England, to date, small businesses have benefited from the scheme as follows:

Expenditure (£)
2000–013,758,000
2001–0210,200,000
2002–0311,800,000

The report covering the Regional Selective Assistance scheme, was undertaken in 2002 and found that businesses who benefited from Enterprise Grant were able to invest in projects that enabled them to increase their productivity and profitability and raise their skills levels, in areas of England that would not normally attract capital investment. By offering a grant of 15 per cent., we encourage private investment covering 85 per cent. of the capital investment costs, again in areas that traditionally struggle to gain investment finance.

(b) STEP

For STEP (the Shell Technology Enterprise Programme), DTI has contributed approximately £0.68 million in 2003–04 and intends to fund STEP at about this level in 2004–05. An exit survey of businesses that participated in STEP in 2003 showed that:


(c) Faraday Partnerships

Faraday Partnerships aim to bring new products and processes, based on the UK science base, to the market more effectively. DTI and the Research Councils support 23 of the 24 Faraday Partnerships: the other is supported by the Scottish Executive and Defra.

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DTI spend on Faraday Partnerships to date has been:

Expenditure (£)
2000–011,915,311
2001–023,351,631
2002–035,903,343
2003–04(6)2,904,500
Total14,074,786

(6) First two quarters.


Based on a five-year business plan, DTI offers each Faraday Partnership up to £400,000 per year for an initial three years. Subject to an interim review of the Partnership's progress, further support may be made available, but on a tapered basis.

In 2002–03, Faraday Partnerships managed research portfolios totalling over £101 million; over 1,700 firms and nearly 400 University research teams are actively involved.

Initial studies of the impact of the Faraday Partnerships on business have revealed the following generic effects:


(d) Manufacturing Advisory Service

The Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) was launched in April 2002. The Department's funding commitment is £15 million over the period 2001–02 to 2004–05, as follows:

£ million
2001–023
2002–035
2003–045
2004–052

Of this sum, £13.75 million is provided to the English Regional Development Agencies and Welsh Development Agency as part-funding for the 10 Regional Centres for Manufacturing Excellence through which the service is delivered. The remainder of the Department's funding has supported the development of a complementary network of centres of expertise in manufacturing, a national website, and other essential central functions.

The DTI sees the MAS as a real success as a major source of advice and support for manufacturers. Since it was launched, the MAS has handled over 15,000 inquiries. Over 4,500 manufacturing firms have benefited from MAS diagnostic consultations and over 1,000 have gone on to undertake in-depth projects to drive up their productivity and competitiveness. Latest figures show that the total added value to UK firms using the service is approaching £30 million.

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what funding her Department has provided for (a) the Advanced Metals Technology Initiative, (b) the Technology Review grant scheme for small businesses,

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(c) the Innovation and Technology Programme for small businesses and (d) the Development Projects grant scheme in each year since inception of the scheme; what timescale applies to the funding in each case; and if she will make a statement on the timescale to which this funding applies and estimate the extent to which businesses have benefited from each initiative. [145488]

Nigel Griffiths: The following information is as follows:

(a) Advanced Metals Technology Initiative

The Advanced Metals Technology Initiative effectively started in September 2003. The DTI is providing funding of £2.5 million over a three year period, up to December 2006, to AMTI. As the project has only recently started it is too early to estimate the extent to which businesses have benefited.

(b) and (d) Technology Reviews and Development Projects

Technology Reviews were introduced in 1999 along with Technology Studies as additional elements of the Smart scheme. The funding provision for these elements was not shown separately from the rest of Smart but expenditure for these two elements was originally forecast to rise to some £2.8 million a year. These elements were withdrawn in May 2003 following the review of DTI business support.

Development Project grants were another element of Smart and the funding provision and payments for this element were not shown separately. This element has now been subsumed within the new Grant for Research and Development which was introduced in June 2003 following the review of DTI business support.

The overall funding provision for Smart and the benefits to small and medium sized businesses in terms of grant payment outturn were as follows:

£ million

Total Smart outturn Technology Reviews and Studies outturn
1997–9825.8-
1998–9924.9-
1999–200026.52
2000–0127.3154
2001–0223.7462
2002–0332.1711

An evaluation of the Smart scheme as a whole was undertaken in 2001 (the Review element of Smart was briefly touched upon as it had only just been introduced). At the time the research was undertaken annual turnover in the economy was nearly £500 million higher than it would have been without the scheme. It is also estimated that annual exports were nearly £270 million higher and employment was more than 8,000 higher.

Almost all award winners said that their projects had improved their technological knowledge/skills. Large majorities also reported quality improvements, increased investment in R and D/innovation, and an improved market position. Four in ten winners had sought further finance to enable them to introduce their products into the market. The majority of these thought that the Smart award had enabled them to do so. A copy

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of the full evaluation is available at www.dti.gov.uk/about/evaluation (c) Innovation and Technology Programme for small businesses

The DTI does not operate a programme under this name, but does provide support for small businesses to develop innovation and technology, such as Grant for Research and Development and Grant for Investigating an Innovative Idea.

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what funding has been provided by her Department to finance (a) the Manufacturing Advisory Service, (b) the Community Development Venture Fund and (c) the Supply Chain Groups initiative since the inception of each scheme; what timescale applies to the funding in each case; and if she will make a statement on the extent to which businesses have benefited from each initiative. [145511]

Jacqui Smith: The following information is as follows:

(a) Manufacturing Advisory Service

The Manufacturing Advisory Service was launched in April 2002. The Department's funding commitment is £15 million over the period 2001–02 to 2004–05, as follows:


Of this sum, £13.75 million is provided to the English Regional Development Agencies and Welsh Development Agency as part-funding for the ten Regional Centres for Manufacturing Excellence through which the service is delivered. The remainder of the Department's funding has supported the development of a complementary network of centres of expertise in manufacturing, a national website, and other essential central functions.

The MAS has been a real success as a major source of advice and support for manufacturers. Since it was launched, the MAS has handled over 15,000 inquiries. Over 4,500 manufacturing firms have benefited from MAS diagnostic consultations and over 1,000 have gone on to undertake in-depth projects to drive up their productivity and competitiveness. Latest figures show that the total added value to UK firms using the service is approaching £30 million.

(b) Community Development Venture Fund

The Community Development Venture Fund (CDVF), known as the Bridges Fund, was launched on 14 May 2002 and became fully operational after a fourth and final closing in September 2002.

The Fund is a £40 million fund that was established to provide venture capital finance to viable SMEs with good growth potential in the 25 per cent. most disadvantaged wards in England. The Fund is made up of £20 million from institutional and private sector investors and £20 million from the Government to be invested alongside the private sector investors, through pound for pound matched funding. The Fund is not a Government "scheme": it is a commercially managed venture capital fund in which the Government is an investor alongside other leading private sector investors. The Fund has an investment period of up to nine years

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although Bridges Community Ventures Ltd, the Fund Manager, expects most of the fund to be invested by the end of year five.

As at the end of December 2003, the Bridges Fund has invested over £5 million in nine SMEs with growth potential that are located in disadvantaged areas:

£ million

Financial YearDrawn down from DTI
2002–032,175,000
2003–04 (as at 31.12.03)4,193,395

(c) Supply Chain Group

The Supply Chain Group was launched in April 2003. The DTI plans to spend £15 million over five years and so far has spent £446,372.

The programme will benefit companies throughout the automotive supply chain by providing them with expert help to improve their business. Participants are invited by their industry customer, ensuring that help is targeted to the most significant suppliers. To date, 10 supply chain group projects involving 94 companies have been approved. These are long-term activities and hard data on the improvements achieved will be available towards the end of 2004. The initial feedback from participating companies has been encouraging.


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