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Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the (a) purpose and (b) role of the regional supply offices; and what their budget was in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
Regional Supply Offices (RSOs) were designed to provide a means by which small businesses could gain access to the supply chain business of large firms. The market failure was that large firms were often unaware of smaller, potential suppliers in their regions, and for their part small businesses were unable to talk to chief buyers etc because they lacked the status to do so. The role of the RSO Advisers was to go out and learn of the large suppliers' supply chain requirements, and then offer to locate (small business) suppliers for them. In parallel, the RSO Advisers would help the small
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suppliers to develop their services to meet the customer requirements. Practical examples of these activities included seminars and workshop to highlight the benefits companies could gain from understanding supply chain development programmes, briefing on special topics such as manufacturing issues, subsidised stand space for companies at major trade shows and exhibitions as well as the organisation of business to business events. In April 2001, responsibility for the RSOs was transferred to the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) in the English regions.
The RDAs integrated their RSOs but services of a similar nature continue to be provided in all regions as part of the RDAs' and Partners' range of business support. However, as supply chain support has been mainstreamed in this way, information about costs cannot be easily disaggregated and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research her Department has carried out into the possible effects on small businesses in rural areas of further plans for restrictions to the postal services; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms: The provision of postal services to small businesses in rural areas is an operational matter for the Royal Mail. I have therefore asked the Chief Executive to reply direct to the hon. Member .
Mr. Timms: Following discussion with HSE's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, BNFL has carried out a structural analysis of the B30 facility. HSE expects to receive the main findings of the report in September, after which further plans will be developed.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress BNFL has made in removing sludges from B30 Sellafield in order to comply with the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate's specification 325 issued in 2000; and what assessment has been made of whether the deadline of removing and treating 90 per cent. of the sludges will be met by August 2010. 
BNFL are developing plans to meet the specification requirement of 90 per cent. of sludge removal by August 2010. Sludge removal requires modification to the plant at B30 and the building of a new structure to house and treat the sludge. Some preliminary refurbishment work has started. This and other projects form the basis for carrying out sludge removal and are being incorporated into both the short and long term plans for the site. HSE's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate will continue to monitor these plans so that the August 2010 date will be met.
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Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the implications of Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Turner and Newall for compensation for victims of asbestos-related injuries in the UK; and if she will make a statement. [186491R]
Jacqui Smith: The treatment of claims of US asbestos related creditors in the Federal Mogul Chapter 11 proceedings is a matter for the parties in interest in those proceedings to determine, under the supervision of the bankruptcy court. In the UK asbestos related claims against the Turner and Newall companies which are in administration are matters for the administrators of those companies. Where required the administrators can seek the direction of the court as to the conduct of the administration.
Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she expects to be in the position to introduce legislation implementing the UN Sales Convention; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Hewitt: Any legislation needed to implement the 1980 UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods will be introduced when Parliamentary time permits. We are at a comparatively early stage on the road towards possible legislation but we are proposing to issue a consultation document, in the course of the next few months, to examine the available options.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the current levels of funding from her Department to the West Midlands Minority Ethnic Business Forum. 
Jacqui Smith: The West Midlands Minority Ethnic Business Forum is not directly funded by the DTI but received support from Advantage West Midlands. This year AWM expects to spend £300,000 on the West Midlands Minority Ethnic Business Forum of which approximately £180,000 has been spent to-date.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with her European counterparts regarding proposals to abolish the individual opt-out from the 48-hour limit set by the Working Time Directive; and if she will make a statement. 
I am not aware of any European proposals to abolish the individual opt out. Both my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have had a number of key meetings with the Commission and member states to ensure that the UK's position is well represented with regards to the opt out.
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30. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether the Lord Chancellor plans to bring forward proposals to change the powers of the House of Lords to delay legislation. 
Mr. Leslie: Any proposals for substantial reform of the House of Lords will have to consider the role, powers and procedures of the second chamber and its relationship with the House of Commons. The Labour Party will return to House of Lords reform in its manifesto.
26. Mr. Clappison: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what progress is being made with his plans for the Lord Chancellor and a supreme court in the administration of justice. 
Mr. Leslie: The Constitutional Reform Bill will reform the office of the Lord Chancellor, establish a new Supreme Court and set up a new Judicial Appointments Commission. The Bill was introduced into the House of Lords on 24 February and has received detailed scrutiny from a Lords Select Committee. The Bill is now receiving the attention of the other place.
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