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Indonesia (Arms Exports)

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the Export Credits Guarantee Department included agent's commission in the overall contract sum to be underwritten on the sale of armoured vehicles by Alvis Plc to Indonesia. [211096]

Mr. Alexander [holding answer 27 January 2005]: Contractual arrangements (including agent's commission) are provided to ECGD by exporters in confidence.

Manufacturing Support

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on Government support for the manufacturing industry in the last financial year. [210901]

Jacqui Smith: The Department of Trade and Industry spent approximately £0.5 billion on business support programmes in the last financial year ending April 2004.
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In addition, the Department supports business through a number of different mechanisms such as Regional Selective Assistance and initiatives on, among other things, innovation, technology and best practice. For example the 2004 Spending Review (SR2004) allocated £320 million to the Technology Strategy, and total funding for Manufacturing Advisory Service over the SR2004 period will be £34 million—representing an increase of £4 million compared with the SR2002 period.

While we will have aggregate data for each, collating how much was spent on manufacturing in total could be provided only at a disproportionate cost not least because of the complexity of the Standard Industrial Classification codes.

As a indication of Government investment in manufacturing, Regional Selective Assistance grants worth £295 million were offered in the period April 2003 to April 2004, approximately 80 per cent. of which were to manufacturing companies, securing £1.9 billion investment and safeguarding/creating 43,100 jobs.

Minimum-price Alcohol

Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the implications for competition of pubs and nightclubs being obliged to charge minimum prices for alcohol as a means of tackling alcohol misuse; and if she will make a statement. [211236]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Chapter One of the Competition Act 1998 prohibits agreements, decisions or practices that restrict competition, including those that seek to fix prices or trading conditions. In the context of inter-departmental discussions on the options for tackling problems associated with excessive alcohol consumption, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has provided advice about the effects of competition law.


Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total expenditure by her Department on (a) advertising and (b) advertising and publicity was in (i) 1996–97, (ii) 1997–98 and (iii) 2003–04; and what the estimate of cost of each will be in (A) 2004–05, (B)2005–06, (C) 2006–07 and (D) 2007–08. [211672]

Ms Hewitt: The information requested is not held centrally in the form required and could be produced only at disproportionate cost.

Rural Post Offices

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how the term rural is defined for the purposes of UK Government policy on post offices; and what discussions she has had with Ministers in the Scottish Executive about such a definition. [211999]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The classification of a post office branch as urban or rural is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. The company has for several years classified rural post offices on the basis of a Countryside Agency definition of a rural settlement as one with less than 10,000 inhabitants. This definition replaced their earlier one which classified communities up to 6,300 people as
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'rural'. The wider definition was adopted by the Post Office in the autumn of 2000 when the formal requirement to maintain the rural network and prevent avoidable closures was placed upon them by this Government. Around 1,500 additional post offices were brought under the protected 'rural' category as a result of the adoption and implementation of the wider definition.

While there have not been any specific discussions held with Ministers in the Scottish Executive over the company's definition of rural post offices, officials from my Department are in regular contact with officials at the Scottish Executive on the issue of rural post offices.


Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps Her Majesty's Government are taking to facilitate UK-Ukraine trade and foreign direct investment by UK companies into the Ukraine. [213276]

Mr. Alexander: UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) supports businesses in the UK seeking to compete internationally. UKTI brings together the overseas resources of the FCO with the Department of Trade and Industry, and has strong partnerships with Regional Development Agencies in England, as well as with the Devolved Administrations.

Advice and assistance is available from UKTI for UK companies interested in trading with, and investing in, the Ukraine.

Wholesale Gas Market

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the operation of the UK forward wholesale gas market; what assessment her Department has made of the differential between the UK forward gas price and comparable prices in the rest of the EU; and if she will make a statement on the effect of the UK forward wholesale gas market on the competitiveness of intensive industrial consumers of gas. [211249]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Great Britain has the most highly developed forward gas market in the European Union. UK forward prices for contracts delivering gas in Quarter 1 2005 and winter 2005–06 rose slowly through 2004, peaking sharply in October, before falling back. Continental forward prices (Zeebrugge Hub, Belgium,
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and TTF, the Netherlands) followed a similar pattern, but did not peak as severely and remain below the UK price. The relatively high UK winter forward prices reflect seasonality and the potential tightness in the market.

My right hon, Friend the Secretary of State met representatives of energy intensive users before Christmas and agreed that officials would work with industry to develop ideas for improving the operation of the forward gas market. I have also held discussions with companies on this issue.

Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether she expects to postpone further the Government's decision to allow the NHS to re-coup costs under the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 until the Office of Fair Trading has completed its latest investigation into the cost of employers' liability insurance. [210304]

Ms Rosie Winterton: I have been asked to reply.

The consultation exercise has only recently ended and we are still analysing the responses. It would therefore be premature to make any announcements on next steps or to make the responses publicly available at this stage. When we have completed our analysis, we will in due course publish a summary of responses in accordance with the provisions of the Government's code of practice on consultations. At that time, we will make the responses themselves available in the Library.


Budget Allocations

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the total spending on the (a) Union Learning Fund, (b) Adult Learning Inspectorate, (c) Wellbeing Project, (d) National College of School Leadership, (e) Sector Skills Development Agency and (f) Office of Fair Access was in each year from 1997–98 to 2003–04; and what the planned expenditure is on each for each year from 2004–05 to 2007–08. [211480]

Derek Twigg: Information on total spending can be provided from the year in which the body started operation or the initiative began. The following table shows expenditure in £ millions.
£ million

Body/initiativeDate began1998/991999/20002000/012001/022002/03
Union Learning Fund1998/991.
Adult Learning Inspectorate2001/0217.124.5
Wellbeing Project2003/04
National College of School Leadership2001/0226.560.5
Sector Skills Development Agency2002/0315.9
Office for Fair Access2005/06

Body/initiativeDate began2003/042004/052005/062006/072007/08
Union Learning Fund1998/9912.214.214.414.414.4
Adult Learning Inspectorate2001/0227.827.628.228.128.6
Wellbeing Project2003/0411
National College of School Leadership2001/0292.6115.599.2
Sector Skills Development Agency2002/0334.969.766.661.460.2
Office for Fair Access2005/060.5

1.2004/05 figures are latest forecasts of end year expenditure.
2.2005/06, 2006/07 and 2007/08 figures are indicative only.
3.Figures for 2006/07 and 2007/08 for the National College of School Leadership have yet to be finalised.
4.Funding for the Wellbeing Project ends in 2005/06.
5.Figures for the Adult Learning Inspectorate and the Sector Skills Development Agency in 2006/07 and 2007/08 reflect efficiency savings agreed as part of the review carried out by Sir Peter Gershon.

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