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29 Jun 2004 : Column 196W—continued

National Minimum Wage (Scotland)

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 15 June 2004, Official Report, column 820W, on the national minimum wage (Scotland), for what reasons it is not now possible to provide a figure for those aged over 21 years benefiting from the national minimum wage in the same terms as the answer to a similar question in June 2003. [180519]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Based on the Office for National Statistics' Low Pay data released in 2003, the DTI estimates that in Scotland, between 90,000 and 110,000 people aged 22 or over were expected to have benefited from the October 2003 uprating of the national minimum wage. It is not possible to provide estimates specifically for 18 to 21-year-olds (the Development Rate) because of small sample size.

Post Office Closures

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many (a) rural and (b) urban post offices have closed in (i) England, (ii) Wales and (iii) Scotland in each of the last five years; [181020]

(2) how many (a) urban and (b) rural post offices have closed in each of the English regions in each of the last five years. [181021]

Mr. Timms: I understand that since March 2000 the company has recorded details of post office closures, including those under the urban reinvention programme, which commenced in late 2002, on the basis of Government region and country. The figures requested are broken down in the following table.
Urban/rural closures by region

2000–01
2001–02
2002–03
2003–04
RegionUrbanRuralUrbanRuralUrbanRuralUrbanRural
East Midlands3425332478820
East of England1060+12217169117
London9117+14311550
North East14010814510
North West11289+4251214912
Northern Ireland4174248137
Scotland7575211376314
South East265272918231831
South West114872631810725
Wales9613231175419
West Midlands53181622138712
Yorkshire and Humber104041714129412
Total10644168194(12)230115(13)1,129149


(12) Includes 102 closures under the urban reinvention programme.
(13) Includes 1,109 closures under the urban reinvention programme and an adjustment of 35 for permanent closures previously considered to be temporary.


Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post offices have been closed under the urban post office reinvention programme in each region of the UK since its inception. [181022]

Mr. Timms: I am advised that since March 2000 the company has recorded details of post office closures, including those under the urban reinvention programme, which commenced in late 2002, on the basis of Government region and country. The figures requested are broken down in the following table.
Urban reinvention closures by region

Region2002–032003–04Total
East Midlands74451
East of England114455
London117788
North east42125
North west108292
Northern Ireland0121
Scotland82735
South east19110129
South west95261
Wales92534
West Midlands74754
Yorkshire and Humber75158
Total1021,1091,211

 
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Post Office Contracts (Tesco)

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many post office contracts Tesco has taken over as a result of its takeover of (a) the T&S Group chain of convenience stores, (b) Adminstore and (c) other stores; and how many Post Office contracts Tesco has given notice of its intention to terminate, broken down by (i) the date the Government was notified and (ii) location; [178937]

(2) for which of the post offices whose contracts Tesco has given notice of its intention to terminate will be (a) relocated nearby and (b) permanently closed; [178938]

(3) what assessment she has made of the cost to Post Office Ltd. of (a) relocating and (b) permanently closing the post office branches whose contracts have been terminated by Tesco. [178939]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 15 June 2004]: These are operational matters for Post Office Ltd. and I have therefore asked the Chief Executive to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Small Businesses (Coventry)

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps the Government have taken to promote small businesses in the constituency of Coventry, South since 1997. [180354]

Nigel Griffiths: The Business Link Operator for Coventry, South, Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, has provided assistance to 1544 enterprises, in the Coventry, South constituency since 2001. The Small Business Service was set up as an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry in April 2000. Contracts were exchanged with a national network of 45 Business Link Operators (six in the West Midlands) to provide Business Support to small and medium sized enterprises from April 2001. Before this date Government Support to business was provided through Training and Enterprise Councils.

496 of the 1,544 companies received Business Start Up advice, other assistance provided included Workforce Development, Financial advice, Investors In People, Specialist Business Advice, International Trade, and Marketing assistance.

167 of the companies were female run businesses and 122 were ethnic run businesses.

Since April 2000 the Enterprise Grant scheme (which closed on 31 March 2004) enabled nine companies to receive offers of grant with a total value of £421,000.
 
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Since 1997 the Research and Development scheme and its predecessor Smart enabled 20 local companies to receive offers of grant with a total value of £1,067,500.

Western Sahara

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what advice she offers to British companies intending to undertake commercial activities in the Western Sahara. [180734]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The UK views the status of Western Sahara as undetermined and we fully support the efforts of the UN Secretary General and his personal envoy, James Baker, to find a fair and lasting solution to the dispute.

Commercial deals are a matter for the companies concerned but the companies should be aware of the undetermined status of the territory.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Alley Gating

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what grants Chorley council can access for alley gating; [179777]

(2) how many alley gate schemes have gone ahead in (a) Chorley, (b) Lancashire, broken down by district and (c) the north-west region, broken down by constituency; [179778]

(3) how many councils have had alley gate schemes rejected in (a) Lancashire and (b) Chorley. [179779]

Ms Blears: Comprehensive figures for schemes are not available and there are a number of funds which authorities can access for such project. For example, Chorley Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership has used the Building Safer Communities Fund to gate off two streets in 2002–03 and erect a further seven gates in 2003–04.

As part of our "Together" antisocial behaviour initiative, we have introduced Operation Gate It—a specific fund for environmental solution to problems of antisocial behaviour, including alley gating, accessed through our partner Groundwork UK. Last year we funded pilot Gate-It schemes in Blackburn, Bury, Bootle and Ormskirk. On 24 June, we announced further Gate It Schemes in Blackpool and Wigan. This year's fund has closed but we will be running it again next year.

Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, local authorities have the power to close off rights of way for the purposes of crime prevention. To get these powers, they need to apply to Department for Environment Farming and Rural Affairs Secretary of State for a particular area to be designated under the Act. Areas have been designated in Halton, Knowsley, Manchester, Salford and Oldham.


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