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Mr. Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many claims there have been for (a) chronic pulmonary emphysema and (b) vibration white finger in the Easington constituency; how many have been settled; and what amount of compensation has been paid to date. 
|Claims received (number)||8,098||5,607|
|Interim payments made (number)||2,012||3,764|
|Full and final offers made (number)||3,541||2,218|
|Offers accepted (number)||2,466||1,918|
|Total amount paid (£ million)||24.4||38.4|
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Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many vibration white finger cases the Government have referred to the Vibration Reference Panel; and on what date the Vibration Reference Panel was set up. 
Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how much the Government have charged the (a) Miners Pension Scheme and (b) British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme for their role as guarantors in each of the last six years; 
Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on her Department's procurement policy with regard to offshore IT and call centre outsourcing; whether her Department is outsourcing IT and call centre jobs to offshore companies; to which countries her Department has outsourced these jobs; how much her Department has spent on this outsourcing in each of the last two years; and how much has been budgeted for this purpose for the next two years. 
Ms Hewitt: The DTI does not have a specific procurement policy with regard to offshore IT and call centre outsourcing. In all procurements, the DTI always seeks to achieve best value for money, having due regard to propriety, regularity and the European procurement directives.
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Mr. Timms: Statistics for electricity generation are not available at county level. This is because such data would disclose information about individual private companies. Out of the 11.4 MWh of electricity generated from renewable sources in 2002, 1.3 MWh (11 per cent.) was generated in the east of England region that includes Cambridgeshire.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many security passes have been reported (a) lost and (b) stolen by staff in (i) her Department and (ii) departmental agencies in the last 12 months. 
There were 17,190 VAT de-registrations during 2002 in the East of England, which was 470 less than those registering for VAT during the same year. There have been more registrations than de-registrations in the East of England each year from 1995 to 2002.
The number of company insolvencies in the East of England area also fell between 19992000 and 200203. A stable economy with low interest rates has assisted the net growth of business in the East of England.
Mr. Robert Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage of Smart Feasibility award winners have failed to launch product or service due to failure to attract investment. 
Nigel Griffiths: The report of the most recent, independent evaluation of the Smart scheme was published in September 2001. It found that 29 per cent. of those businesses which received only a Feasibility
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Study award and 19 per cent. of those which received both a Feasibility Study and a Development Project award did not or expected not to introduce a new or improved product or process as a result of the project. Of those businesses, regardless of the outcome of their projects, which found barriers to the introduction of new products or processes to market, 37 per cent. which received only a Feasibility Study award and 31 per cent. which received both a Feasibility Study and a Development Project award cited "lack of finance" as a barrier.
Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the effect of current EU proposals for software patenting on the small and medium sized enterprise sector. 
Ms Hewitt: The current European Commission proposal for a Directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions has been subject to a regulatory impact assessment, which was cleared by the European Scrutiny Committee of the House in its forty-first report of the 200102 session.
Although the scope of the assessment is necessarily wider than the SME sector, it does specifically consider the effect of the proposals on small businesses. In particular, it indicates that the proposed Directive would reduce the uncertainty concerning the patentability of computer-implemented inventions and should therefore reduce patenting and legal costs. As these costs and uncertainties are of particular concern to small and medium sized businesses, I believe that a Directive that achieves these aims would have particular benefits for the SME sector.
Ms Hewitt: The Government continue to support the proposal put forward by the European Commission for a Directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions that clarifies the existing position and reduces uncertainty in this field. My Department continues to work with interested parties and other member states to achieve a Directive that meets these aims and offers benefits for both software developers and software users in the UK and Europe.
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