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MG Rover Group

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what assistance the Government have provided to MG Rover Group in relation to (a) UK and (b) internationally based activities; [179317]

(2) what mechanisms have been put in place to monitor the use of public assistance provided to MG Rover Group; and if she will place in the Library all material collated by her Department on the assistance given; [179318]

(3) how much public assistance has been made available to MG Rover Group; how much of this has been drawn down; what (a) grant, (b) support scheme, (c) programme and (d) initiative provided this money; for what purposes the support was provided; and how much support was provided in each instance. [179319]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 18 June 2004]: On 17 March 2000, we committed the substantial amount of £129 million to implement the recommendations of the Rover Task Force. Some £11 million has been spent on actions which needed to be taken immediately, for example to support the automotive supply chain. A further £17 million has supported the Modernisation of the automotive supply chain and nearly £20 million has been used for Diversification, to support and encourage businesses to engage in new activity.

In addition, £22 million has been agreed to create three High Tech corridors to attract and develop more high tech and high value added businesses. We also agreed an overall sum of £2 million to kick-start initiatives in the North Staffordshire area. £10 million was made available to Advantage West Midlands to buy a strategic site in Birmingham for future industrial development. £42 million has been provided for good quality Regional Selective Assistance projects in the region and some £5 million of the £129 million total is not yet allocated to specific projects.

From the total £129 million, £49 million has been spent as at the end of March 2004. £4 million has been allocated to MG Rover as described as follows. MG Rover Group have been offered assistance in the following two areas:

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These grants relate to UK based activities. The normal mechanisms for monitoring assistance under the Learning and Skills Act and the Ultra Low Carbon Car Challenge are applied to these grants.

Ministerial Air Travel

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list for each year since 1997 the number of miles flown by each Minister in her Department on official departmental business. [181868]

Ms Hewitt: The DTI does not record the number of miles flown on official departmental business by its Ministers or staff. To provide the information requested would entail disproportionate cost.

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total cost of air travel between Northern Ireland and Great Britain was for (a) Ministers and (b) officials in her Department in the latest year for which figures are available. [182132]

Ms Hewitt: The estimated total cost of air travel between Northern Ireland and Great Britain was £619 for (a) Ministers and £58,224 for (b) officials in the DTI in the 12 month period ending 31 March 2004.

Premium Rate Telephone Line Fraud

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with (a) ICSTIS and (b) BT concerning premium rate line fraud involving use of the Internet; and if she will make a statement. [181830]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 5 July 2004]: The DTI will continue the ongoing discussions with ICSTIS, OFCOM, BT and other operators throughout July to develop solutions for managing the consumer issues now, while building a strategy for limiting the potential for this type of fraud in the future.

Regional Development Agencies

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the cost was to public funds of appointing and remunerating a new chairman and members to the boards of the eight English regional development agencies this year; how many chairmen and members have been appointed in total, and at what cost in remuneration; how many staff have been employed by the regional development agencies, in each of the last three years; and what the cost of remuneration was in each year. [182206]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 5 July 2004]: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced on 30 June 2004, Official Report, column 14WS, in a written ministerial statement, the appointment of Dr. Bryan Jackson as the new Chair of 'emda'. Dr. Jackson will be remunerated at £49,854 for an average time commitment of two days per week. The advertising and consultancy costs of this appointment were £34,953.

Work is currently under way on this year's Board process, with 32 positions available on the eight English RDA Boards (excluding London). Those appointed will be remunerated at £7,931 for an average time
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commitment of two days per month. It is estimated that the advertising and consultancy costs will be in the region of £210,000.

Since the RDAs were launched in 1999, Ministers have appointed 15 Chairs (excluding the new 'emda' Chair) and 189 Board Members. The following table provides details of the total remuneration paid to Chairs and Board members in each of the financial years to 31 March 2003 (information for 2003–04 is not yet available).

The following table gives details of the number of staff employed by each of the RDAs, and the cost in remuneration, over the three years to 2002–03 (information for 2003–04 is not yet available).
Staff Employed (Number)164178216
Staff Remuneration (£000)5,3466,6038,995
Staff Employed (Number)8392139
Staff Remuneration (£000)3,1253,9925,245
Staff Employed (Number)124141170
Staff Remuneration (£000)4,1204,6605,384
Staff Employed (Number)237263291
Staff Remuneration (£000)7,5878,48910,596
Staff Employed (Number)244240249
Staff Remuneration (£000)7,6337,9759,011
Staff Employed (Number)122136182
Staff Remuneration (£000)4,5095,5717,928
Staff Employed (Number)182197227
Staff Remuneration (£000)5,5456,3587,498
Staff Employed (Number)220226282
Staff Remuneration (£000)6,1508,0779,823

Vibration White Finger

Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when the services claims under the vibration white finger scheme of persons under 70 years of age will be dealt with. [181123]

Nigel Griffiths: The miners representatives and the DTI agreed that priority should be given to the over 70s.

The claims of younger miners now are being processed in order to date of claims.
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Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how she plans to process services claims for vibration white finger that have been submitted; and what resources will be allocated to ensure that the claims are processed without delays. [181124]

Nigel Griffiths: The VWF Services process at the Department's claims handlers IRISC involves an assessment of both submitted paper evidence and further information gathered through telephone discussions with those who currently provide a Service to the claimant. Once this is complete the claim is forwarded to Capita Health Solutions who conduct the medical and return to IRISC for offer. Deceased claims are dealt with on a tariff basis and there is no medical.

To meet the aspirational scheme end dates of all medicals completed by the end of 2006 and all claims settled in 2007 we plan to double resources at both contractors.

Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many services medical assessments and service offers have been made under the vibration white finger scheme to date; how many claims have been submitted; and what procedures have been introduced to ensure that the remaining services claims are dealt with efficiently and with minimal delay to the claimant. [181125]

Nigel Griffiths: As of the end of May 2004 a total of 6,751 VWF Services medicals had been completed and 3,912 offers had been made. In total the Department had received questionnaires for 24,602 cases where a Services claim had been intimated.

To ensure that those VWF Services claims are dealt with as effectively as possible we have agreed aspirational scheme end dates with our contractors. We are planning to have completed all Services medicals by the end of 2006 and to have all claims settled during 2007. At a recent workshop we communicated these dates to solicitors, together with details of the increasing resources we are devoting to this. We urge solicitors to do the same.

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