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19 Oct 2005 : Column 1027W—continued

Ministerial Travel

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many air miles were accrued through departmental ministerial travel in his Department in 2004–05, broken down by Minister; how many were (a) foregone and (b) donated to charity, broken down by charity; and whether air miles accrued by officials were required to be (i) foregone and (ii) given to charity. [17328]

Mr. Touhig: Ministerial travel is conducted in accordance with the Ministerial Code" and Travel by Ministers". Guidance for Ministers on the use of air miles is set out in the Ministerial Code". The guidance makes clear that air miles should be used only for official purposes or else forgone. However, if it is impracticable to use the benefits for Government travel, there is no objection to Ministers donating them to charity if this is permissible under the terms of the airline's scheme and the charity is one chosen by the airline.

Similar rules are in place for officials. However, the Ministry of Defence has no central record of air miles accrued by either Ministers or officials, and is unable to provide details of those forgone or donated to charity.
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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what procedures have been put in place to ensure that funding received by QinetiQ from the Department on a non-competitive or allocated basis is used for the purposes for which it is intended. [16833]

Mr. Ingram: The funding QinetiQ receives is tied to specific tasks that need to be completed to the satisfaction of the MOD customer. The MOD has a formal enabling contract with QinetiQ and the specific tasks are awarded against that contract. The procedures follow the principles of contracting applied to any supplier. Progress and completion of individual tasks are monitored by MOD staff against agreed criteria.

Regiment Naming

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the full procedure and timetable is for (a) selecting and (b) formally agreeing a new name for a regiment, with particular reference to the King's Lancashire and Border Regiment. [17695]

Mr. Ingram: In selecting the names for new infantry regiments there has been a great deal of consultation at local and regimental level about potential new titles. The responsible Division of the Infantry then makes a recommendation to the Executive Committee of the Army Board, which in turn seeks the approval of Ministers and, ultimately, Her Majesty the Queen.

UK Nuclear Deterrent

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy to seek a vote in the House on the future of the UK nuclear deterrent. [19087]

John Reid: I have nothing to add to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (Mr. Moore) on 14 October 2005, Official Report, column 620W.


Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many volunteering positions his Department has offered in each of the last five years. [17869]

Mr. Touhig: For civilian employees, the information requested is shown in the following table:
Prince's TrustPrince's Trust DruidstoneRaleigh International

These figures only represent centrally managed volunteering initiatives. Local contributions by Ministry of Defence business units to the Year of the Volunteer are not recorded centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Information relating to the Armed Forces is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
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Birmingham Stock Exchange

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much was spent by the West Midlands Regional Development Association on the creation of a stock exchange in Birmingham; and what the planned completion date is. [18780]

Alun Michael: There is a well acknowledged market failure for west midlands based SMEs raising growth capital. Recent work undertaken by ECOTEC for AWM in September 2004 has restated the existence of an equity gap of between £0.5 million and £5 million, with the most severe constraints being for businesses seeking up to £2 million of growth capital.

Investbx will act as a facilitator to connect ambitious west midlands based companies with investors. Companies will release shares in exchange for funds; Investors will have access to investment opportunities that would otherwise not have been available to them.

While the primary objective of Investbx is to raise funds for the company, a number of ancillary services such as a trading platform, receiving agent services and showcasing will be an integral part of the Investbx offer to ensure that the process of raising money is as straightforward as possible and that there is continued interest in the company once it joins the trading platform.

The application for up to £3.8 million funding over six years for Investbx was formally approved by AWM on 19 January 2005. The project received DTI Section 5(2)(c) consent on 4 April 2005 and it is anticipated that Investbx will launch during Q2 2006. Funding from AWM will be used to pump prime the establishment of Investbx for up to five years or such time as sufficient companies and investors have been attracted in order to sustain Investbx as a stand alone entity.

AWM's involvement will give comfort that Investbx will be supported for at least five years or until it reaches the point of sustainability. This guaranteed longevity is vital. Potential companies, investors and intermediaries need re-assurance that Investbx will be a permanent feature of the financial community.

Investbx Scheme

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what expenditure Advantage West Midlands (a) has so far incurred and (b) is expected to incur on establishing the Investbx scheme. [19715]

Alun Michael: The project background was explained in parliamentary question number 18780 which appears above this question.

The application for up to £3.8 million funding over six years for Investbx as formally approved by AWM on 19 January 2005 and the project received DTI section 5(2)(c) consent on 4 April 2005. Costs associated with establishing Investbx which include feasibility work, market testing and legal fees are expected to be as follows:
19 Oct 2005 : Column 1030W

Total to establish Investbx (£000)
To 30 September 2005826
To 31 March 2006c.900

It is anticipated that Investbx will launch during Q2 2006.

Civil Partnerships Act

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how he plans to inform (a) employees and (b) businesses of the change in rules that will occur as a result of the introduction of the Civil Partnerships Act 2004. [18405]

Meg Munn: Informing employees and businesses about the Civil Partnership Act is an important element of the Government's awareness raising campaign about the legislation.

The Women and Equality Unit (WEU) has already produced advice for employees and businesses about the impact of the introduction of the Civil Partnership Act. In July a bulletin specifically for employees and businesses was published on the WEU website and emailed to a wide range of stakeholders, including employers organisations and trade unions.

ACAS will shortly be re-issuing its guide on Sexual Orientation in the Workplace", which has been updated to reflect the introduction of civil partnership. In addition, I have written several articles about civil partnership for business and trade union publications which will be published over the next couple of months.

There is also extensive general guidance on civil partnership on the WEU website, which can be access at

Coal Imports

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact of coal imports on the UK's balance of payments; and if he will make a statement. [16530]

Malcolm Wicks: According to the latest HM Revenue and Customs statistics, in 2004 the value of imports of coal and other solid fuels was £1482.3 million. The value of exports of coal and other solid fuels was £60.2 million. Hence, in 2004 the net exports (exports minus imports) of coal and solid fuel were valued at -£1422.1 million.

These net exports represent 6 per cent. of the UK current account deficit in 2004. The current account deficit is forecast to widen a little this year to around 2¾per cent. of GDP, and to be stable at about that level thereafter. This remains modest compared to historical peaks: The current account deficit was more than 5 per cent. of GDP in 1989.

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