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13 Oct 2005 : Column 565W—continued

eContentplus Programme

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many projects have applied to operate in the UK as part of the eContentplus programme; in which projects the Government is participating; and if he will making a statement. [16840]

Alun Michael: The eContentplus programme has only just issued its first call for proposals, and so there are no figures available as yet. Information for the eContent programme, which preceded eContentplus, may be of interest. It shows that in the four years of the its operation the programme attracted 71 UK participants, representing 10.3 per cent. of the total. The Government, directly or through one of its agencies, was a participant in eight of the projects, including ePATENT (the Patent Office), EULIS (Her Majesty's Land Registry), EUROREGIOMAP (Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland), @RETE (British Tourist Authority), ELCA2 (Environment Agency), EUROROADS (Ordnance Survey), EEARTH (National Environment Research Council), and DIAS (Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils).
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New Businesses

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many new businesses have registered in each London borough in each of the last five years. [16946]

Alun Michael: DTI figures based solely on VAT registrations for each London borough are shown as follows for 2000 to 2004. Data for 2005 will be available in autumn 2006.
VAT registrations 2000–04

Barking and Dagenham370320320360355
City of London1,4601,0851,0451,0901,120
Hammersmith and Fulham1,0159959409651,065
Kensington and Chelsea1,2259401,0951,1601,175
Kingston upon Thames625600595575630
Richmond upon Thames9558909951,010985
Tower Hamlets1,0959359701,1101,045
Waltham Forest650630650685695

Business Start-ups and Closures: VAT Registrations and De-registrations 1994–2004, Small Business Service, available at

VAT registrations do not capture all start-up activity. Businesses are unlikely to be registered if they fall below the compulsory VAT threshold, which has risen in each year since 1997. Only 1.8 million out of 4.3 million enterprises were registered for VAT at the start of 2004.

Regional Government

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what regional (a) bodies, (b) institutions, (c) taskforces, (d) panels, (e) offices and (f) organisations have been established since May 1997 which are the responsibility of his Department. [15196]

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Alun Michael: DTI has responsibility for the following entities with a regional remit which have been established since May 1997:


Task Forces:


WarnTone System

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will grant a test licence for the WarnTone system to alert traffic to emergency vehicles. [16855]

Alun Michael: The matter raised is the responsibility of the Office of Communications (Ofcom). Ofcom is the independent regulator for the communications sector, deriving its main powers and duties directly from statute rather than by delegation from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, and accountable to Parliament in its own right. Accordingly, my officials have asked the chief executive of Ofcom to respond directly to the hon. Member and to send me a copy of his response. Copies of the chief executive's letter will also be placed in the Libraries of the House.



Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of young people carrying firearms. [16716]

Hazel Blears: Young people's attitudes to guns can only be changed by everyone—Government, local authorities, police and communities—working together.

We are supporting local communities in fighting against gun crime through our small grant programme, the Connected Fund. We are also supporting anti-gun crime campaigns such as "Don't Trigger" which was launched on 3 October.

We have tightened the law on controls on firearms including putting in place a five year minimum sentence for those convicted of possession of an illegal firearm. The Violent Crime Reduction Bill includes a proposal for a ban on the sale, manufacture and import of realistic looking imitation firearms and a new offence of using another person to hide or carry a dangerous weapon.
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Identity Cards

Martin Salter: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost of an identity card will be; and if he will make a statement. [18588]

Mr. Charles Clarke: It will be affordable to set a charge of £30 at current prices for a stand-alone ID card which is valid for 10 years. This will be affordable within current Home Office spending plans.

This figure has been arrived at following careful scrutiny of the costs of the ID cards scheme over the summer by the Home Office, in full consultation with Treasury and other Government Departments.

We are unable to release the precise costs for individual aspects of the scheme because this information is commercially sensitive and could affect the Department's ability to secure value for money from the market. However, independent analysis in a report from KPMG, a summary of which will be published shortly, has concluded that the costing methodology is robust and appropriate for this stage of development.

We are also developing plans to roll the scheme out faster using registration with the criminal records bureau as well as passport application to enrol people into the ID cards scheme. This would lead to faster issuing of the card and improved outcomes and budget savings for the criminal records bureau.

We remain confident that further significant savings to Government and the private sector will be identified as plans are developed. In particular, the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality, East (Mr. McNulty) now chairs a cross-departmental ministerial committee to identify transformational benefits and efficiencies which the ID cards scheme can deliver to other Government Departments.

Our current best estimate of the average unit cost of the combined passport and ID card package is £93; around 70 per cent. of these costs would be incurred anyway because of the worldwide move to biometric passports. We expect that most people will still choose to get their ID card alongside their new biometric passport as this will be the most convenient way to participate in the scheme and will give people the full benefits of having the most secure travel documentation.

I am also publishing today a research report 'Identity Cards: an assessment of awareness and demand for the Identity Cards Scheme' which demonstrates strong public support for the scheme.

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