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23 Feb 2004 : Column 65Wcontinued
Mr. Timms: Capital expenditure on asset replacement by the National Grid Company plc is currently of the order of £120 million per year, approximately one-third of NGC's total annual capital expenditure under its current regulatory price control. The value of the company's network assets is approximately £5 billion, which gives an average replacement rate of 42 years.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the deadline is for the consultation document on the practice of offshoring which her Department has recently issued. 
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Ms Hewitt: The consultation document invited comments by 30 January 2004. But we would still welcome comments from others who were not able to respond by this date. We are currently studying the information we have received carefully.
Sir Paul Beresford: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations Postwatch South East has received on Post Office Ltd.'s proposal to close the Fetcham sub-Post Office; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms: I understand that Postwatch South East received 98 representations during the public consultation period in Post Office Ltd.'s proposal to close Fetcham sub-Post Office under its urban network reinvention programme.
Sir Paul Beresford: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if she will undertake to take the final decision if Post Office Ltd. intends to fufil its proposal to close Fetcham sub-Post Office; 
Mr. Timms: Following public consultation on a post office closure proposal, as required under the Code of Practice agreed between Post Office Ltd. and Postwatch, the final decision on closure is an operational matter for the company.
Sir Paul Beresford: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent changes there have been to the rural to urban classification of post offices and sub-post offices in Mole Valley. 
Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what criteria the Post Office will use in deciding the future of post offices in Liverpool, Riverside which is recommended for closure. 
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the impact that Faraday Partnerships have had on (a) the overall productivity of UK businesses and (b) reducing disparities in regional productivity. 
Ms Hewitt: The 24 Faraday Partnerships were designated on the basis of the needs of their respective sectors to accelerate new product development based on research. They feed into DTI's overall objectives for improving productivity and competitiveness in the UK.
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The Partnerships operate against business plans that are individually agreed with the public sectors sponsors (typically DTI and one or more Research Councils). Progress against the business plan is regularly assessed.
Partnerships do not have a specific objective to reduce disparities in regional productivity; their aims are to improve knowledge transfer and overall performance in UK businesses wherever they are to be found.
Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether regional development agencies only fund organisations located within the regions they serve; and if she will make a statement. 
Jacqui Smith: Section 4 of the Regional Development Act 1998 sets out the five purposes of the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). These purposes relate to the region covered by the RDA. RDAs may fund organisations, located outside their regions, if this benefits their regions and furthers their strategic objectives for the region.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of regional development agencies (a) achieved their targets and (b) delivered their regional economic strategies and corporate plans in the last year for which figures are available. 
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As regards the Regional Economic Strategies, the East Midlands Development Agency, One North East, the Northwest Development Agency, the South East of England Development Agency, the South West Regional Development Agency and Yorkshire Forward, published their Regions' current strategies in 2002, Advantage West Midlands and the London Development Agency published theirs in 2003 and the East of England Development Agency will publish a revised Strategy in 2004. The current Corporate Plans for each RDA cover the period 200306 and were approved by Ministers and published in 2003. The Regional Economic Strategies and Corporate Plans are available on each RDA's website.
Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many staff each Regional Development Agency employs; what the total salary bill of each agency was in the last year for which figures are available; what the average salary per employee was in each case; and what the proportion of staff salary per thousand head of population was in each case. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 11 February 2004]: The information is set out according to the most recent RDA annual reports for year ending 31 March 2003 (for reference the website for each RDA is provided in the table).
|RDA||Number of staff||Total salary bill (£000)||Average salary per employee (£)||Midyear population estimate for 2002(9)||Proportion of staff salary per 1,000 headof population (£)|
Midyear Population Estimates: Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures are being taken to (a) raise awareness of regional venture capital funds and (b) reduce regional disparities in application levels, especially within areas of lower entrepreneurial activity. 
Nigel Griffiths: Government have invested £120,000 to raise awareness of the Regional Venture Capital Funds including holding a National Conference. We have also supported the regional launches of the nine Regional Venture Capital Funds and I have attended several events to launch or promote RVCF.
Officials regularly review the performance of all the Funds including the number of applications received. Any areas of concern are raised by my officials at the regular Advisory Committee meetings. I have asked officials to investigate any regional disparities and to report their findings back me.
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