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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 4 February 2004

PRIME MINISTER

Iraq Survey Group

14. Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Prime Minister, whether (a) he and (b) his Ministers have visited the members of the Iraq Survey Group in Basra; and what assessment he has made of their personal safety as they carry out their task. [152508]

The Prime Minister: Neither I, nor my Ministers have visited the Iraq Survey Group in Basra. I and my right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Defence have visited the headquarters of the United Kingdom Brigade in Basra.

The assessment of the personal safety of Iraq Survey Group personnel must be made by the local commander who can judge the security situation on the ground. The safety of personnel is the over-riding concern during the planning of Iraq Survey Group activities. If necessary, added Force Protection can be provided to the Iraq Survey Group while they conduct missions within the UK Area of Operations.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

National Minimum Wage

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people (a) in the UK and (b) in Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East have benefited from the minimum wage; and what measures are in place to ensure that employers are paying the statutory hourly minimum wage. [148401]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Based on the Office for National Statistics' low pay data released in 2003, the DTI estimates that around 1.2 million people in the UK should have benefited from the introduction of the minimum wage in April 1999. We also estimate that between one million and 1.2 million people in the UK should have benefited from the increase in the minimum wage rates in October 2003.

It is not possible to provide estimates specifically for Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East. However, the DTI estimates that around 80,000 people in the North East should have benefited from the introduction of the minimum wage in April 1999 and that between 80,000 and 90,000 people in the North East should have benefited from the increase in the minimum wage rates in October 2003.

The Inland Revenue enforce the minimum wage on behalf on the DTI. If a worker believes they are not

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receiving the minimum wage they should contact the minimum wage helpline (0845 6000678). All complaints about underpayment, including those from third parties, will be investigated. The Revenue also make use of their own data, including tax credits information, to make proactive visits to employers whom they suspect may not be paying the minimum wage. In 2002–03 the Revenue completed over 6,200 investigations and identified £3.6 million of minimum wage arrears.

Bank of Credit and Commerce International

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she will reply to the request from the hon. Member for Leicester, East for a meeting on the way the Insolvency Service has dealt with BCCI. [149267]

Mr. Sutcliffe: A reply was sent to my hon. Friend on 13 January 2004.

Bribery

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what written guidelines her Department has produced for staff (a) in her Department and (b) in Trade Partners on how they should respond to allegations of overseas bribery and corruption; on what date these guidelines were published; and if she will place a copy in the Library. [151513]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Guidance on these issues issued in January 2002, February 2002 and March 2003 to relevant staff in both the DTI and what is now UK Trade and Investment, as well as other relevant government departments. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House. Background guidance including an information leaflet on bribery and corruption (a copy of which was deposited in the Libraries of the House on 15 October 2003, Official Report, column 265W) is also included on the UKTI website www.uktradejnvest.gov.uk. The guidance complements that provided to all Crown Servants in the "Giving Evidence or Information about Suspected Crimes—A guide for Crown Servants". This report was placed in the Libraries of the House on 20 March 1997 under reference dep/3/4876. It can also be accessed at website http://www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/../..central/2001/crownser.pdf.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many allegations of overseas bribery and corruption her Department has received since 1997; on what dates the allegations were received; and what action her Department took. [151517]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: To provide the information requested would involve a manual search of files which would incur disproportionate costs. Furthermore, we cannot comment on individual reports received in order not to prejudice possible criminal investigations.

Business Start-ups

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the change in the number of successful high growth business start-ups in each year since 1997. [152054]

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Nigel Griffiths: The estimated number was as follows:

Number
199712,200
199812,200
1999 (provisional)12,900

These estimates are based on the following definition of HGSU:


Community Interest Companies

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the likely level of demand for community interest companies over the next five years. [151714]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 29 January 2004]: The Regulatory Impact Assessment of the Companies (Audit, Investigations and Community Enterprise) Bill, published by the Department in December 2003, used a working assumption that initially between 100 and 300 new community interest companies might register each year.

Correspondence

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her answer of 22 January 2004, Official Report, column 1446W, when she will write to the hon. Member for Nottingham, North. [152390]

Nigel Griffiths: A response was sent to my hon. Friend on 27 January.

Departmental Recruitment

Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been spent on recruitment advertisements in the press, broken down by publication, by (a) her Department, (b) quangos under the Department and (c) non-departmental Government bodies under the Department (i) in the last year and (ii) since 1997. [145807]

Ms Hewitt: When running recruitment campaigns, my Department uses the most appropriate advertising media, be it national, regional, local, trade magazine or website, depending on the nature of the post to be filled. We use the service of advertising agencies to place our advertisements and to seek appropriate media advice.

Individual management units generally meet recruitment costs from their own delegated budgets and there are no centrally held records of the breakdown of advertising costs.

Fisheries (Compensation)

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many applications there have been for compensation from former Icelandic waters trawlermen which (a) have been successful, (b) have

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been unsuccessful, (c) have been put on hold and (d) which are pending a decision, broken down by region of the UK. [152393]

Nigel Griffiths: Up to January this year 4,750 trawlermen had been paid a total of £40.7million. A total of 2,973 claims had been assessed as not qualifying for compensation. There are no claims on hold. Following is a breakdown of the numbers of payments and compensation by current area of residence:

£

LocationNumber of paymentsAmount paid
Hull176618.4 million
Grimsby8215. 5 million
Fleetwood3633.1 million
Blackpool54404 thousand
Cleethorpes2261.6 million
Newcastle3703. 6 million
West Yorkshire2372 million
Aberdeen2901.5 million
Others6234.5 million

I regret that there is no breakdown of claims not qualifying for compensation. I have today announced my proposals to extend the scheme list by 21 vessels. Claims from trawlermen who worked on these vessels will be re-examined with additional compensation for those who qualify.

Miners' Pensions

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she will announce the minimum payment under the Miners' Pension Fund; and if she will make a statement. [149796]

Nigel Griffiths: The level of pension payments by the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme is a matter for the Scheme's Trustees. In September last year they announced an increase in pensions in line with RPI.


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