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12 Feb 2004 : Column 1627Wcontinued
Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what evidence she has collated on the purchase of compact discs at discount prices on the internet and subsequent surcharges imposed by the British Phonographic Industry. 
Ms Hewitt: I do not have information on the specific facts behind the dispute between BPI and CD WOW! However, I understand that CD WOW! have agreed not to import products from outside the European Economic Area to satisfy customers in the UK. I do not believe there is an issue of surcharges involved.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of whether investment activity rates will achieve their investment targets for the regional venture capital fund. 
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps her Department is taking to introduce a standardised definition across each region of an application to a regional venture capital fund. 
Nigel Griffiths: The Government encourages the fund managers of these commercial funds, managed by experienced venture capital specialists, to share best practice in areas like the quality of applications.
Nigel Griffiths: The Limited Partnership Agreement (LPA) requires the RVCF Fund Manager to establish and report progress of the fund to an Advisory Committee on a regular meeting cycle. Both the DTI and the local Regional Development Agency have a seat on the Advisory Committee for each RVCF. The LPA also requires the fund manager to supply regular reports to investors.
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Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what feedback she has received from small companies in relation to the impact of the higher marginal rate on profits in the band £10,000 to £50,000 since its introduction; and what her assessment is of the impact. 
The introduction of lower rates of corporation tax has reduced the corporation tax liability of small companies, and has been welcomed by business. The introduction of the starting rate of corporation tax in April 2000, now at 0 per cent., and the reduction in the small companies' rate in April 2002 to 19 per cent. will together have reduced the CT liability of companies who make profits of between £10,000 and £50,000 by £2,000 at the lower end of this range to £500 at the higher end.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage of the (a) total and (b) yearly small business service budget was devoted to deregulatory initiatives in each year since its inception. 
|Administration costs (£000)||Percentage of total|
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many companies have benefited from the Small Business Loan Scheme in (a) the North West, (b) Lancashire and (c) Chorley in each of the last three years. 
|Financial year||North West||Lancashire||Chorley|
(9) Ten months to 31 January 2004
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Nigel Griffiths: In 200102 the SMART scheme helped 1,140 small firms with grants or grant offers of £47 million. This is a record take-up and a substantial increase on the 800+ awards in 200002. It is estimated that the impact of SMART has boosted the economy by an extra £500 million pa and generated an extra £270 million in exports.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many firms were given assistance with internet business solutions by UK online for business, in each year since its inception. 
Mr. Timms: Since inception, UK online for business has helped several hundred thousand businesses, with over 250,000 interactions with businesses each year. UK online for business offers a wide range of impartial jargon-free information through our adviser network, publications, interactive business tools, a programme of events a comprehensive website and a national network of business advisers who deliver frontline advice to SMEs.
UK Online for business has over 450 partners, which comprise of key partners and a combination of small companies, intermediaries (TAs, professional bodies etc.), local authorities and other Government Departments. We provide a package of support for our advisers/partners who run events. In the financial year 200203, 779 events were supported with an estimated SME audience of 161,307. So far this financial year 200304 we have supported 528 events with an estimated SME audience of 77,000.
We have over 120 publications some of which are interactive covering a range of business and technical topics. In January 2002, UK online for business launched the existing website, where registered users have increased from 6,876 in April 2002 to over 30,000 in January 2004. In the last year financial year UK online for business call centres dealt with 15,000 calls, 13,500 emails and distributed 1.6 million items of collateral.
Mr. Timms: Currently planning authorities take into account the recommendations and methodologies for the measurement of noise in the case of wind farms as set out in the report 'ETSU-R-97: The Assessment and Rating of Noise from Wind Farms'.
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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with her counterparts in the United States since the breakdown of the World Trade Organisation ministerial conference in Cancun about the likely impact of the United States Farm Bill on the (a) economies of, and (b) living standards in, developing countries. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government conducted intensive discussion with the United States officials and Ministers when the US Farm Bill was first introduced in 2002. Since Cancun there has been on-going contact between UK and US officials about all aspects of the WTO Round, including on the question of US domestic subsidies and their potential impact on the livelihoods of producers in developing countries.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will identify the ways in which representatives of developing countries at the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference at Cancun judged that the transparency of the negotiating process was better than at Seattle and Doha. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Wider consultations by the Chairman of the General Council in the months leading up to Cancun, daily meetings for all Heads of Delegation and an open structure for the discussion sessions at the ministerial conference in Cancun itself gave considerable opportunity to make views clear. We need to maintain the benefits from these changes of process at future WTO ministerials.
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