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Regional Selective Assistance

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many regional selective assistance grants have been made since 1997; what their value is; and how many jobs it is estimated they have (a) created and (b) safeguarded. [192571]

Nigel Griffiths [holding answer 21 October 2004]: Between April 1997 and 31 March 2004, 3,611 offers of RSA grant totalling £949 million were accepted by firms in support of projects in England. It is estimated that these projects will create 122,000 jobs and safeguard a further 76,000.

Further information can be found in the Industrial Development Act Annual Report, published by the Stationery Office and placed in the Library of the House.

Solar Power

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how much solar power the UK generated in the last period for which figures are available; [198278]
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(2) what targets there have been for the installation of solar power in domestic properties in the last 10 years; [198279]

(3) what target has been set for the installation of solar panels. [198280]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Solar power is used for generating electricity using photovoltaic panels (solar PV). It is estimated that at the end December 2003 there was 5,903 kWp of installed PV in the UK (Source: International Energy Authority—National Statistics).

The current target for installation of solar PV under the DTFs Major PV Demonstration Programme launched in 2003 is 1,000 domestic/individual systems (2 MW) and at least 140 medium and large-scale non-domestic systems (5 MW). The budget for the Major PV Demonstration Programme has been increased from £20 million to £31 million this year and the targets will be reviewed.

EU State Aid

Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment is made of the EU state aid scoreboards in decisions about the making of grants of aid to UK industry; and whether the scoreboards are regularly monitored to assess grounds for disputing state aid awards by other member states. [197602]

Mr. Alexander: The EU state aid scoreboard is published twice yearly and provides data on the levels of state aid granted by member states. The data presented in the scoreboards are at an aggregated level for the EU and individual member states; for example, total aid granted as a proportion of GDP, total aid granted by aid instrument (grant, loan, tax exemption etc.), total aid granted for particular activities (SME business support, environmental protection, training, regional development etc.). Therefore, it does not provide information that can be used for making decisions on granting aid to UK industry or disputing individual awards by other member states.

However, the Government do monitor other sources of information on other member state aid awards, particularly the information on aid approvals and investigations published in the Official Journal of the European Communities and makes representations to the Commission on cases where this is deemed to be appropriate.


Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the effects of the provision of utilities by means of prepaid meters on communities at risk of social exclusion; and if she will make a statement. [198757]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Although the use of prepayment meters is concentrated among lower income customers, it is not synonymous with vulnerability or the risk of social exclusion. Prepayment meters enable customers to monitor and control expenditure on energy electricity supply, and are, in some cases, a valuable alternative to
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disconnection for non-payment of bills. Because of the additional cost of the meter and the administrative infrastructure that supports it, prepayment tariffs are customarily higher than those of other payment methods, although the differential will vary from company to company. Prepayment meter users may, therefore, be able to reduce their energy bills by switching supplier, as well as by seeking a cheaper, simpler payment method, which will, for most customers, be direct debit.

Business Women

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many and what percentage of businesses were run by women in each of the last 10 years. [190832]

Nigel Griffiths: Data are not available on the number and percentage of all businesses run by women. The number of businesses owned by women, in England, in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with less than 250 employees, can be estimated from business surveys conducted in 2001, 2002 and 2004 on behalf of the Small Business Service (SBC). SMEs account for 99.8 per cent. of the total business population. There are no data prior to 2001. The proportion and estimated number of women owned SMES is as follows:
Women-owned(22) SMEs 2001 to 2003, England only

Percentage of
all SMEs owned
by women(23)
Estimated number of SMEs in England(24)Estimated number of SMEs owned by women

(22) Women-owned refers to SMEs where women make up the majority of the owners.
(23) Source: SBS Omnibus Survey Waves 1–3 (2001), the SBS Omnibus Survey Waves 4 and 5 (2002) and the SBS Annual Small Business Survey 2003 (2003).
(24) Estimates of the number of SMEs in England are only available for the start of 2001.
SBS SME Statistics for the UK, 2001

The number and percentage of self-employed people who are women can be measured using the Office for National Statistics' (ONS) Labour Force Survey. Female self-employment is not the same as business
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ownership as one self-employed woman could run several businesses or be involved in running a business where the majority of owners are men. Also, women working as directors of companies will be classed as employees in the Labour Force Survey.

The number of self-employed women and women self-employment as a proportion of all self-employed people is as follows.
Number of self-employed women and women as a percentage of all self-employed people aged 16 and over—UK, all persons, not seasonally adjusted

Self-employed women (Thousand)Women as a percentage of all self- employed

ONS Quarterly Labour Force Survey, spring of each year (March to May)


Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) who is responsible for the enforcement of section 125 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000; [198164]

(2) what the consequences are of breaching Section 125 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000; and what measures are in place to prevent such a breach. [198163]

Mr. Leslie: It is the responsibility of those to whom section 125 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 applies to ensure that they comply with the requirements of that provision. A person alleging a breach of section 125 could seek to bring a judicial review. It would be for the courts to decide the consequences of a breach according to the circumstances of the challenge.
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Benefit Debts

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library copies of the contracts given to four debt collection companies to collect benefit debts from people no longer in receipt of benefit. [196509]

Mr. Pond: The generic contract has been placed in the Library. The schedules have not been included as they contain information that is commercial in confidence. This is in line with paragraph 13 of part 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the Government expect to receive in repayments of overpaid benefits as a result of the exercise launched with four debt collection agencies in March. [196515]

Mr. Pond: It is early in the pilot to forecast accurately the return on the contracts with the four private sector suppliers. The agreement with Treasury is that recoveries to costs ratio should exceed 2:1 and we are confident that this will be achieved.

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